World Cups 4: Southgate’s Lucky Waistcoat

What an emotional rollercoaster of a week for an England fan. In the second round, England broke their penalty shoot-out curse by defeating Columbia, and yesterday we saw the boys in red and white cruise through to the semi-finals by beating Sweden in a decisive 2-0 performance.

Did I do it? Did I sound like a football pundit?

Speaking of, here’s a highlight from Fox Sports this week, where Ian Wright is working as a pundit for them:

American Host: And we’ll be back after this, where I’m sure Wrighty will yell as loud as he can, and say what England need to do in the second half. The half time show, is up next on FS1.

CUT TO FOX SPORTS LOGO

Ian Wright (Off camera): I’m not gonna yell at you bruv.

It’s been a bizarre tournament this time around. Many of the villainous footballing nations were eliminated early on, leaving an all-babyface contest for the final eight, besides host nation Russia. It took a lot, but I’m glad Croatia managed to put a stop to them.

When it came out that none of the Russian players had been tested for PEDs, I was worried that the entire tournament was going to be pointless. That even if England made it to the semi-finals, they’d be beaten by some coked-up, killer-robot men, who’d been made in one of Putin’s twelve underground athlete-growing facilities. Not to be confused with his thirteen underground sex-bunkers.

Turns out these genetic freaks can be stopped by Croatia, a result that the Croatian government are already fearing, due to the eternal wrath of Putin. He’s of the opinion that any country East of those “wine guzzling pizza apologists”, are free for a cheeky invasion on his part. World War One began with the assassination of an Arch Duke, World War Three will begin because Croatia eliminated Russia on penalties.

Belgium bested Brazil in a game that alliterative headline writers are already branding as brilliant. Both teams had exciting performances in the second round, particularly Belgium’s reverse-sweep victory over Japan. I had Belgium over Brazil, but was branded a moron for this by several Americans because, “Brazil always win things.” Interesting opinion from a nation that couldn’t even qualify for the easiest World Cup in history. See you in 2026 America! Or — you know, out in public tomorrow.

At least Brazil didn’t go out on an embarrassing performance, as they did in 2014. It was actually a fairly mediocre showing from them, which in a way is worse, because nobody is going to want to talk about it, or indeed write about it.

Lose better next time Brazil! We know you’re capable.

Good-guy France defeated Uruguay 2-0. I’m calling them that because they’re the only other team in the tournament that feels as uplifting as the England side. In fact, if it’s France vs England in the final, we might have two of the sweetest squads in history facing off against each other. I can’t wait to see which team manages to lift The Wholesome World Cup 2018.

I say all this because France’s Mbappe has pledged all of his world cup earnings to charity, which has meant more and more money with every win, and Southgate was snapped consoling a Columbian player who missed a penalty during the shootout. He himself knowing the pain of a moment like that. It was a just moment, especially coming after a game where the Columbian coach had shoulder-barged an England player, before grinning like a pantomime villain. Southgate made him look like a petty loser through his own peaceful actions. Is he English Jesus? I couldn’t possibly comment, but — yes.

southgate2
Not actually hugging, just checking to see if he has a tenner on him.

So let’s talk about Gareth Southgate and what he’s managed to achieve with this young England team. He’s a man who looks like your mates older brother, you know the one I mean, and he always appears to be ready for a game of snooker.

I heard a rumor that he only planned on wearing the waistcoat for the first game, but it went so well that the get-up was referred to as “the winning waistcoat” by his teammates and family. He then became scared to remove it. Stories have emerged (from my mind) that he’s been showering in the waistcoat, making love to his wife without removing the waistcoat, and putting his bins out in St Petersburg on a Thursday morning whilst still donning the waistcoat.

Whether it’s lucky or not, it’s certainly stylish. Southgate, along with his winning side, are helping to put an end to the imagery of English football thuggery. If they’re encouraging hooliganism still, at least they’re encouraging classy and well-dressed hooligans, like the mafia.

It’s strange living outside of England during the team’s greatest performance in my lifetime. There’s no England flags hanging from windows here. Although if we make it to the final you better believe I’ll be running to the “British Store” downtown and purchasing a St George’s Cross to display proudly for twenty-four hours.

It’ll be an action that I’ll later describe to people as post-ironic, or satirical, but in my heart I’ll have meant it.

No matter which nation you’re from, football is a great opportunity to be proud of your country without the overtones of racism. Sure, you still get idiots, but most of us just want to support our homeland in something that doesn’t involve thousands of people dying. As they do in “death football”, or “war” as it’s more commonly known.

I’ve been annoying my American wife by repeatedly telling her that “It’s coming home” in the middle of conversations. We’ve reached the point now where she’ll also say those three magic words, before asking if she’s used it in the correct context. There is no incorrect context, I say, as the football is always inevitably coming home.

At this stage, if they win or lose going forward, I’ll be proud of this England team. They’ve proven that they’re going to give it their all, and that’s all any of us non-football players, who — if anything — have only disgraced their country through lack of participation, can ask.

Today is Sunday, July 8th and I’m off to my first Renaissance Fair. I bet my favourite part will be the historical inaccuracies.

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