The last time England had this kind of rare opportunity Bobby Robson was being driven to the point of distraction by the footballer whom Gianni Agnelli, the president of Juventus, described during that run to the 1990 World Cup semi-finals as “a dog of war with the face of a child”.
Paul Gascoigne had, among other episodes, contributed to Bryan Robson’s absence because of a drunken prank in which a bed landed on the captain’s toe (achilles trouble, was the official line). Gascoigne broke curfews as a habit, spooked Bobby Robson into thinking he had fallen off a balcony and come to an arrangement with the hotel barman that, when he ordered a milkshake, it was in fact Baileys.
But most of all he had played football beautifully. “You do realise you’ll be playing against the best midfielder in the world?” his manager asked him before that famous night in Turin. “No,” Gazza replied, “he is.” Then the game started and he made a point of nutmegging Lothar Matthäus, captain of West Germany.
Did you see Dele Alli this week reminiscing about the time he did the same to Luka Modric? Perhaps you thought he sounded a little overconfident to be talking of such a thing. But it was actually quite reassuring, from an English perspective, to be in Alli’s company and see, close-up, how confident he was at a time when this bunch of players, more than ever, need to show they have moved on since the days when Fabio Capello said the England shirt “weighed heavily” on their shoulders.
Already that process is well under way and Gareth Southgate gives the impression he has freed himself of some of his own demons. One story he told after his team’s arrival in Moscow related to how, for more than 20 years, Tyler Johnson Womens Jersey
he could barely bring himself to listen to Three Lions because it brought back painful memories of his missed penalty in the Euro 96 semi-final. “I would just walk out of the room,” he said. “It is an anthem and it has followed the team for a long time but that has involved some difficult moments as well.”
That song has formed the soundtrack to England’s World Cup and the Lightning Seeds will even perform it in Hyde Park before the game. “It is nice to be able to put a different frame on it,” Southgate, a U2 man usually, said. “I still look back on it [Euro 96] as an incredible life experience. I just needed a bit of time to get over it. I don’t choose to stick it on and it’s not on the playlist, but I can listen to it now.”
Two more wins for England and Southgate might even catch himself humming a tune he used to hate. And, once again, it was remarkable how relaxed everyone inside the England camp appeared to be. For those of us who have travelled with this team around Russia from day one, and not detected even a flicker of apprehension, it has been like that since the start. Heck, they even began their latest training session with a game of catch, using a rubber chicken rather than a ball. “A bit Kyle Van Noy Womens Jersey
of fun to get them moving,” Southgate explained.
The serious business takes place in the Luzhniki Stadium on Wednesday to find out whether his players will be returning to Moscow on Sunday for the day of their lives.
Yet Southgate is correct when he says it would come as a Womens Youth Michael Palardy Jersey - Panthers Blue Black Authentic Nike NFL Jerseys
surprise if the sense of occasion got to any of his players. Harry Kane, for one, gives the impression he is immune to stagefright when there are glories to be had and a Golden Boot glistening in the distance. Kieran Trippier is one of the players of the tournament. Alli is not faking it when he says he has never felt nervous before any football match in his life. And that is just the Spurs boys. Alli’s take – “excited, not nervous” – summed it up neatly.
Nor did Southgate seem in the slightest bit uptight as he told a story, with more of that self‑deprecating humour, about what he makes of superstitions in football. “I’ll tell you a story about me and superstitions. When I http://www.officialtigerstore.com/Vi...artinez_Jersey
was managing Middlesbrough we had a game at Reading and I was under a bit of pressure. I’d forgotten my socks so I went to the kit man and I borrowed a pair of black goalkeeping socks. When we won the staff made this big thing about my ‘lucky socks’, saying I had to wear them next game. I thought: ‘Hmm, shall I wear those socks? No, it’s ridiculous.’ Well, we lost the next game. Then, on the Tuesday, we were playing again and I thought: ‘Well, I’d better put the socks on’ and we won 2-0.” wholesale jerseys wholesale jerseys wholesale jerseys wholesale jerseys