Last night saw England crash out of the World Cup, beaten 2-1 by Croatia in extra time.
The first semi-final we reached in 28 years and our first shot at reaching a World Cup final since 1966, England had gone from assuming we would have an early exit… to well and truly getting our hopes up.
But while we may have fallen at the final hurdle, there is a lot to reflect positively on.
It made us smile
England’s World Cup performances managed to bring the country together… or most of it anyway. Aside from the odd grumpy one who ‘couldn’t wait for the celebrations and terrifying hooliganism to end’… the team brought together communities, and prompted street parties, happiness and regular renditions of It’s Coming Home.
With an inexperienced team, we continued where we left off… being knocked out of the 2016 Euros by Iceland. Hopes were not high, with the England squad having the joint youngest average age in the tournament… and yet we went on to go further than anybody could have expected.
We found unlikely national treasures
The initial announcement of the team heading to Russia received a mixed response. But those who were possibly criticised the most stood up and inspired an entire country. From Tripper’s faultless placement of the ball in set pieces to Harry Maguire’s legendary headers… we were all cheering for their success.
We found our leader
Gareth Southgate became a hero overnight. The guy from Watford and his waistcoat became overnight celebrities as the entire country’s hopes laid on his shoulders. His ambitions and unique communication with the players saw the country fall in love with Southgate, who ended consoling each player individually on the pitch as our time was up in the World Cup.
So where do we go from here?
We’ve shown ambition and have a young team who will have four more years’ experience under their belts at the next World Cup. New talent is preparing to come through the ranks from England’s successful U21s team, we’ve finally found a leader and we have plenty of time to learn from our mistakes…
Captain Kane added: “We can make knockout games and we can get to semi-finals but the next step is to go one further. We have to carry that on. We want more.”
The plan set out by the FA in 2016 detailed England’s ambition to win the World Cup in 2022, and we’ve proven this could still very much, be a reality.
Qatar 2022, here we come!