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A Sterling effort: Reactions to last night from across SEC Newgate


By SEC Newgate staff in the UK and Italy

The loyalist (Adam Browning)

It was a stressful match to watch but I’m delighted. I vividly remember the disappointment of the ‘Hand of God’ in ’86 (I was 10) followed by the ‘Tears of a Clown’ ten years later – as well as the underwhelming ‘Golden Generation’ and the many ups and downs in between. This is a very talented squad, and the togetherness within the camp and the leadership of the very impressive Gareth Southgate seem genuine. We certainly rode our luck at times, but I felt we deserved to win last night. I fully expect us to go on and win it now – on penalties of course.

The Italian (Maurizio Maione)

It had to be England vs Italy. From the match on 14 November 1973 at Wembley when Fabio Capello, before he turned into Mister Capello the head coach of England, scored an unexpected goal any time the two teams met. Shirts are no longer in heavy cotton, Italy’s role in the global economy has slightly improved and England has now terminated the EU trip that started, coincidently, in 1973. Italy bullied and rushed along the tournament until they met Spain. England was more of a slow starter, speeding-up towards the end. It’s solidity versus inventiveness, geometry vs algebra, rock against sand. Definitely the best match the tournament menu could have delivered!

The pragmatist (Ian Morris)

This must be how German fans have felt for decades. My tournament memory goes back to Mexico 86 so I’m programmed to expect disappointment, but I’m less nervous with this England team than I have ever been… they can attack, defend and control a game. Unfortunately so can Italy.

The euphoric Wanderer (Adam Bull)

As a Bolton and England fan, I am not really sure what to do with myself at the moment. I haven’t experienced anything like this before. I’m not sure I was built to support a successful team. When England won the penalty yesterday, I took my shirt off and sat on my living room floor. No idea why, I just did. I think I am losing my mind through sheer happiness.

The Italian exile (Vincent Carroll-Battaglino)

Southgate has done well with England and has the potential to turn them from last 8/16 whipping boys into a proper footballing nation which is feared in the knockout stages. He has them finally playing seriously and without ego, which is what tournament achievement requires. On a personal note, I think Southgate’s outlook is really good for the country.  I would have preferred Denmark in the final, but to be fair they dug deep and showed some class last night too. Kane’s bottling of the penalty gives us hope for sure.  This will be the fifth time I’ve experienced Italy in a final. Unfortunately, the majority of that has resulted in final heartbreak. Most England fans don’t know that feeling. Obviously I’m hoping they will soon.

The born again hopeful (Tiffany Burrows)

I’ve been lucky in that I’ve grown up supporting a team (Chelsea) who wins (not always, but often). However, unlike club football, I’ve been conditioned to expect country football to let me down from a young age; to nine-year-old me, global titans were no match for the Three Lions. I went to school early to watch the England v Brazil in 2002 convinced that we were going to win, and David Seaman was going to lose his ponytail. Lesson learnt. In 2018, I dared to dream a little, and whilst we achieved a semi-final finish, it was not to be. In stark contrast to managing expectations, my heart was in yesterday’s game from the start. The team under Gareth Southgate has excelled, and while I still shout at the TV, it comes from a place of hope, not one of frustration. Whilst my heart was in my mouth and my heart rate unhealthily high for the match, I wouldn’t change it for the world. Even my football-loathing boyfriend can’t avoid the feeling of - *whispers* - hope ahead of Sunday.

The sommelier (Jessica Hodson Walker)

It would be great if it was just the penalty shootouts that we had to watch – 90 minutes is a lot of trips to the fridge for chilled wine but if I bought an ice bucket I’d be stuck watching.

The Scot (Fraser Raleigh)

While the prospect of football 'coming home' won't exactly delight many north of the border, as a Scot who will be surrounded by England fans for the final on Sunday, I can't quite bring myself to begrudge them for having something to get excited about, particularly after the last year.  And we can at least take comfort that Scotland are still the only team that England have failed to beat!

The Welshman (Dafydd Rees)

Wishing England well. My advice for Sunday is not to let the hype overwhelm the occasion. I’m worried about Fever Pitch.  I was working as a journalist for BBC Sport at Euro 96 and my reflection is that 25 years ago the English nation collectively had a rush of blood to the head which proved in the end to cloud the thinking of the players, the media and the fans. In Welsh we say, gan bwyll a daliwch ati. In English you say keep calm and carry on.

The Celt (Christine Quigley)

As an Ireland fan, I’ve had no skin in the game during this tournament. I watched the progress of our Celtic cousins Scotland and Wales in the early rounds with great interest, but nine hundred years of complex history, politics and culture make it difficult for any Irish person to drape themselves in the St George’s flag. Southgate and the England squad seem like a great bunch of lads, but come the weekend I’ll probably be cheering on Italy. Forza Azzurri!

The egg chaser (Alistair Kellie)

Although I’m an avid rugby fan, football normally leaves me cold.  Every tournament I watch from afar until we reach the business end when I tend to watch the match…until we’re inevitably eliminated.  Not last night.  What a match.  There seems to be a great attitude within the England camp and Gareth Southgate is an excellent manager and communicator.  I hope that we can go one step further on Sunday.  It would be great for the national mood… although I dread the blanket media coverage that will follow.  It’s only football after all!

The well seasoned (Tiffany’s father)

I was six when England won the 1966 world cup. I remember listening to some of the game on the radio and kind of wanting West Germany to win because everyone else wanted them to lose. I’ve learnt since then! Four years later, with the beginnings of a more patriotic view, the ‘hurt’ began when England lost to West Germany in Léon when they really shouldn’t have done. For me the real hurt is when England don’t qualify for tournaments, not for when the team doesn’t meet the over-optimistic expectations peddled by the media. Once at a tournament, other than ’82 and ’90, it is generally more a case of hoping that the team plays well but having no expectation of overall success, so not really 55 years of hurt, more just having my expectations met (ask my daughters about the resigned acceptance of the last world cup semi-final defeat!).

This year though my expectation is higher, not based on the collective euphoria and media hype but on the signs of a team that has confidence in its own game plan and abilities, that has a togetherness and overall looks as good as the best of the other teams. There are still those moments where I growl at the TV for something a player has, or hasn’t done (like most of the game against Scotland!), but this Sunday I will watch the final, thankful that my country’s team is in it, that they are looking good and willing them to win - I won’t be siding with Italy as I did with West Germany all those years ago! Will I get to experience an England win in such a big game now I’m more invested than I was in 1966? I just think I might!