A strange thing is happening in England right now. The national team are playing at a World Cup, and there appears to be a general air of positivity surrounding the team. The first two games were emphatic in the ecstasy they invoked around the country, with a combined eight goals scored and only two conceded.
And, even though the Three Lions lost their final group game against Belgium, for once it was arguably for the right reasons, or at least the right motivations. Though momentum was halted, the path to the semi finals was very much opened up, and while some corners have not taken kindly to the foresight of this whilst there’s still a very capable opponent – Colombia – waiting in the last 16, the logic is there. England want to win the World Cup.
This has left fans dreaming of the ultimate prize once again. Though this is not necessarily an irregular occurrence – they’ve always found a way to momentarily suck us in – there is something discernibly different this time around. Namely, the team seem to be relishing their time in Russia, as opposed to writhing in the sheer misery of representing their country at a World Cup.
In celebration of this, we have capitalised on the general enthusiasm (because who knows how long it will last) by compiling a video examining the thoughts and musings of some of our staff at this surreal time.
Interspersed with shots from a visit to the Kirby Estate, which has gained notoriety for its startling abundance of St George’s Cross flags, a selection of 90min’s most excitable England fans waxed lyrical on Gareth Southgate’s side, and why they’ve captured the nation.
Of course, winning games at a major tournament always helps, and is not something we’ve been all that familiar with in recent times – Tunisia was our first World Cup win since Slovenia in 2010 – but there’s something else.
As Toby Cudworth points out: ” I think we believe that our mentality is better, so as a fan we genuinely believe that this could be our year. We’ve said it in previous tournaments, but not necessarily deep down thought we could do it.”
In this sense, the positivity and joy that the players seem to get out of playing together has breathed the same emotions into the supporters. As it stands, we seem to be at one with the team. Long may it continue. And if it does, why can’t it come home?