I had always said that I would pen this when football came home. I was so certain that on Sunday 15th July 2018 Gareth Southgate’s England team would be crowned winners of the World Cup 2018 and so many years of hurt and wanting would be redeemed.
Sadly we crashed out in the semi finals but that is an impressive run that hasn’t been done since 1990.
Euro 96 was the first real competitive competition that I remember as a child that was my first real connection with the England team and my love and passion for the beautiful game.
During this time I discovered that I loved the game and loved sharing my thoughts about it through conversation and the written word. This changed a lot for me. I had an article published in a column for the Daily Star Sport about Terry Venables and the England team. This was where my love for all things media stemmed from.
My belief was so strong in each and every game I had passion and hope. The England v Holland game of 96 still remains my favourite game to this day. Watching Shearer and Sheringham gave me so much joy. A prolific goal scorer and a truly remarkable footballing brain combined was a winning combination. And it wasn’t meant to be – losing on penalties to Germany killed me and that heartache still sits heavy on my heart.
Fast forward to 2018 – Gareth Southgate may have been one of the unlucky penalty takers who missed but he’s so much more than that. I truly loved each and every player from the Euro 96 team and I was saddened by the abuse Gareth and Stuart Pearce endured and I’m so pleased to see Gareth being a truly amazing manager. What he has created with this young team is truly inspiring. I haven’t felt this passion and pride since Euro 96 and the whole way through this tournament I’ve felt that passion and hope. I have loved seeing a seemingly inexperienced England team flourish and gain experience as they progressed through this World Cup. I won’t sugar coat it ultimately I’m still as heartbroken by our ending but I’m also extremely proud. Watching England win on penalties was the most stressful yet rewarding thing to do.
Jordan Pickford for me came a long way and that penalty shoot out really was a challenging experience and I believe he played for the better from then on. I’m not embarrassed to say I cried when we won that game – for years everyone has always expected us to crash out on penalties but this time was extremely different. If any England manager was going to practice penalties to death it was always going to be in Gareth’s reign.
I truly believe this is the start of something beautiful for English football and I’m super excited for what’s next. Bring on Euro 2020.
Someone posted this pic below on social media and I felt nothing but proud and extremely happy for all that Gareth has achieved so far.
My final thoughts for my 12-year-old self is keep that passion and hope as the future looks extremely bright. In your lifetime you will see England win the World Cup and you will see our team flourish. My other words of wisdom will be set yourself goals and smash them you will feel amazing for it. Also never lose sight of what you love and what you’re truly passionate about.
Now on my Twitter last night there were three options that came up with mentions but something personal just tipped the scales. Which was a weird one for me seeing as I posted my fitness journey yesterday which still surprises me. I should have posted this back in July but for some reason this half written post wasn’t to be. It means a lot to me and it says a lot about me and my passions for the beautiful game and in sharing my thoughts. I can still remember that feeling in seeing my letter in the Daily Star Sport and I remember my mum buying loads of copies of it. It still makes me smile but it also has a tinge of sadness as in some ways I feel like I have neglected my writing.