There’s no doubt winning feels good. So good. And the fact it was the first World Cup penalty shoot out made it all the sweeter. We can and should savour the jubilation.
But as the dust settles on last night’s epic victory over Columbia there is something much more significant to celebrate and maybe a more profound reason for hope than a World Cup trophy.
Finally not only do we have a winning national team we have one that we can finally look to for role model status. Our generation has really lucked out.
Guts, determination, resilience all on show last night from a team and a manager who played with dignity, discipline and on the whole with good old-fashioned sportsman-ship.
There were loads of examples – keeping their heads. working together, coming back after two big disappointments. Eric Dier’s humble answer when asked about his winning penalty only to say he owed it to everyone after missing that header and then Gareth Southgate comforting a distraught Columbian player who had missed his penalty. It’s a young side who just get on with the job – some of whom were playing lower league football only two years ago.
Talk about what can be achieved with a bit of heart and a can-do attitude.
No doubt everyone’s hearts will have been racing up and down the country whilst watching that match. Southgate continues down the road of redemption after England ended up in an all too familiar situation but this time there was no heartbreak.
After facing Panama and Columbia, two teams who don’t seem to mind using rather dirty tactics to try and win you do look at England and see a slightly different type of team with a different approach to the game, not having been coached to play that way. Granted in the Columbia games there were a few hot-headed moments for England but only in response to the actions of Columbia.
With the world watching, I do question why teams and players such as Neymar feel the need to use these dirty tricks. There are so many young children looking up to their favourite players to be role models.
The England team this year feel like a set of players who can be appropriate role models for youngsters across the country and across the world. Captain Kane was not seen lowering himself to the behaviour of the Columbian side. Is this a sign of a truly great leader and team?
This match was a real test for England both physically and psychologically with the majority of fans in the stadium backing Columbia, who felt the need to play in a dirty aggressive style and were given six yellow cards in the match. Despite this England prevailed and will now play on Saturday against Sweden.
Some commentators mentioned England might need to start learning the dark arts if they want to go further – managing the ref etc. I doubt Gareth Southgate feels the same and we are all the luckier for having him on our side.
Bring on Sweden this Saturday – we’re ready. But win or lose if they play like they did last night they will come home heroes!