01 July 2006


England went out. On penalties. Again.

I feel ill.

In truth, England have not been good enough this tournament and did not deserve to be called World Champions this time around. However, they did not deserve to go out today. They fought manfully after Rooney was sent off. Owen Hargreaves was a giant. He was too good to be a loser this afternoon. Even the likes of Steven Gerrard and John Terry crying at the end. If it's any consolation, every England fan in the world was going through the same thing. We went from hope to anxiety to fear, back to hope and then down to utter despair all in the space of two and a half crazy hours. That is how it is to watch England in the World Cup. That is how it is how it can be to be human.

Showing grit and determination then losing on penalties. It is ever the way with England. Watching the shoot-out was unbearable and I was only watching at home! If the Guiness Book of Records needs an entry for the fastest heartrate reached while watching television, they could probably enter mine from today.

At least England went out with a bang. The way we'd played before today made me worry that if we got knocked out it would be in a way that would have left Germany 06 a memoryless tournament for us. Today means that won't be the way. Just as we remember Italia 90 for Gazza's tears and Chris Waddle's penalty; France 98 for Beckham's petulant kick-out, Michael Owen's wonder goal and the shoot-out; and just as Korea-Japan 02 will bring back visions of Beckham sticking it to Argentina and Ronaldinho's free-kick sailing over David Seaman's pony-tailed head, we will leave Germany 06 with the memory of Rooney's red card, a damn good fightback but, ultimately, three missed penalties.

The World Cup might be over for England but it's not for Portugal, France, Germany and Italy. It's been an awesome tournament so far and I can't wait for the final matches and to find out who will eventually be crowned Champions of the World.


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