Before Euro 2020 kicked off, yours truly fancied Roberto Mancini’s revitalised Italy to bring home the pancetta, especially at such delicious odds, so I lumped on.
Don’t judge me. I’d have happily paid double to see England win it.
Being English, I thought it’d be a novelty to have a dog in the fight that actually stood a chance of winning something, instead of a team that’s made a career out of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory for the last 55 years and didn’t appear to stand a cat in hell’s chance of even reaching the final.
Every tournament seems to herald another brutal lesson in Englishness and the Covid-delayed Euros just postponed the agony for another year. You’d think, wouldn’t you, that when Bukayo Saka tickled his spot-kick gently towards the giant human pterodactyl Gianluigi Donnarumma, I’d think “at least the money will come in handy”. But no.
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Missing boy Joseph Steeley, 12, found after disappearing from Royal Lancaster Infirmary
Like everyone else, I just wanted to be sick. This England team, the first since Euro 96, are young, hungry scrappers who run their legs off for each other. In a just world their time would come – World Cup in 18 months, anyone?
Recent England teams have been blessed with more talent but were filled with (I’m trying to think of nicer words here than selfish a******** but can’t). The 2021 vintage are an inspirational bunch of steely battlers who lifted a whole nation for a few magical weeks.
But the racist abuse aimed at penalty missers Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Saka on social media in the wake of yet another spirit-crushing defeat was as depressing as it was predictable.
Seriously, have a word with yourselves. Rashford feeds hungry kids in a global pandemic.
There is a simple solution, but Twitter and Instagram won’t like it. Treat social media companies as publishers, just like newspapers, and make them legally responsible for all content that appears on their sites, and watch them track down the racists in about 10 seconds flat.