Let's all be more Gareth Southgate; C'mon England! | Nicola Adam column

There have been few opportunities in the last few years for us all to rise together and support the team of the country we live in - Sunday's Euro final is a moment for everyone.

By Nicola Adam
Saturday, 10th July 2021, 12:30 pm

Of course some may not agree that those big occasion fans (like me) have earned the right to jump on the bandwagon - but they may have missed the point.

It is exactly the hope and joy of these moment of national cheerleading where the next generations of fans, of players, or managers, or season-ticket holders are made.

Just because someone isn’t a regular at a stadium or their hometown club doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy this moment of national glory, any more than you can’t enjoy Shot-Putt at the Olympics without knowing what a glide or a spin is.

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Somewhere out there, inspired by the sheer possibilities of the Euros and its heroes, is the next female England manager, the next sports reporter of note, or the next penalty-saving goalkeeper.

If there is one thing this England Euro campaign has taught us, it is there is room for the thoughtful types, for the long-game players, for the former under-dog, for the Gareth Southgates of this world.

It’s not all about posturing, rudeness and tough talk. Football managers can be nice and polite. Quite the revelation.

Gareth Southgate celebrates England's victory over Denmark in the Euro semi-final

So we need to quit this social media-led rhetoric of ‘real’ football fans until after Sunday, not everybody is born into a football-loving family. I certainly wasn’t, instead spending my youth as a competitive swimmer ( there was certainly no option for girls to play football then anyway) but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the big occasion or the local derby - and I certainly don’t profess to know the off-side rule off by heart.

If you want to support England you can - I watched Saturday’s game with my Ukrainian neighbours who, following defeat, have switched to support second team England - they live here after all.

And why not? This is a joyous uprising of support, it’s an opportunity to walk together after months of pandemic and division.

I’ll tell you what’s coming home to us - it’s community and hope.

Fans watching the England: Denmark semi-final at Preston fan zone

Let's all be more Gareth Southgate.

C'mon England!