I’m not a football fan or follower as a rule, but I do love the World Cup when it comes around every four years.  However, this year I decided that I wouldn’t bother with it because my team, Italy, failed to even qualify to play in this year’s World Cup. They were cruelly defeated by Sweden in the play offs, which came as quite a shock, especially since Italy have taken the World Cup home 4 times so far. The World Cup without Italy is like Christmas without the Christmas tree!

I started off not watching any of the matches and not being at all interested in it, but then something strange happened.

All the usual suspects crashed out of the tournament early. One by one the likes of Germany, Brazil, Spain, Portugal amongst others all fell like domino’s, leaving some rather unlikely teams in with a chance of winning. One of those teams is England.

During one of the hottest heatwaves the UK has endured in a long time, England have reigned supreme. And for the first time since 1990 and Gazza cried on the pitch when England lost to West Germany in a penalty shootout, England have made it through to the semi-finals.

The public in England have gone wild with England’s success in this World Cup tournament, especially since England haven’t won the World Cup since 1966. Since then it has been traditional for the press to hype up England before every World Cup tournament only for the team to crash out early and leave legions of fans upset and bereft. But not this time, not in 2018.

England haven’t put a foot wrong and have delivered some incredible playing, especially during yesterday’s Quarter Final against Sweden. You could argue that England have just been very lucky and not played against any of the strong teams in the tournament, which has allowed them to reach the semi-finals. But the fact remains that they have done their home country proud, even if they lose against Croatia next Wednesday night.

In a time where uncertainty reigns supreme here in the UK, England have united the country in a way that I thought I wouldn’t see again. It has been heart-warming to see fans and non-fans alike join in the World Cup fever, and I must confess that even though I started off the tournament not being interested in it without Italy taking part I can’t wait to see what happens next and England might, just might, bring the World Up trophy home for the second time since 1966.

Even if they don’t get to bring the World Cup home this year, the England team should be very proud of themselves. To get this far when traditionally they are known for being hyped up to the max by the press and then crashing out at the earliest opportunity is a great achievement. To unite the country through our universal love of football in the way that they have is also another huge achievement. I’m sure that it has also given a much needed boost to the economy in the UK and to businesses, what with all the beer drinking and celebrating that has happened in the last few weeks. England’s World Cup success, coupled with a heatwave that is set to equal that of the one in 1976, can only have had a positive impact on the economy.

Of course, there is also Gareth Southgate, the England team’s manager. Not only is he quite dashing looks wise, with even men admitting they have a bit of a “man crush” for him, but his waistcoats have made a huge fashion statement.  They have been flying off the shelves and men everywhere are buying them to emulate the look that has been personified by Mr Southgate.  His charisma is evident and apparently he has been coaching the team to ignore the press and the expectations of the fans, and to go out on the pitch and do their very best, regardless of whether they win or lose. If this is true, it does seem to be paying off.

So will the World Cup be coming home, or going home? England’s next match is against Croatia on Wednesday 11th July at 7.00pm, and I will be watching and cheering England on. Whether they win or lose this semi-final match, I feel that they have done their country proud.

I will leave you with this alternative version of “The Lord’s Prayer”, which I found on Facebook yesterday before England’s quarter final match with Sweden, and which really made me laugh:

Our Gareth, who art in Russia,
Hallowed be thy waistcoat.
Thy moment’s come,
Thy match will be won,
In normal, not in extra time.

Give us this day our 2-0 win,
And forgive us for doubting your tactics,
As we forgive those who dive against us.

And lead us not into a penalty shootout,
But deliver us from Sweden.
For thine is the semis,
The Final and the glory,
Forever and ever,

So all that remains for me to say is….COME ON ENGLAND…..it’s coming home….hopefully!!