England dared to dream but it's not coming home this time
By Tim Warren
There have been some iconic World Cup moments in the past which have resonated through time.
Germany 2006 had Zidane’s headbutt in the final, South Africa 2010 heard the constant buzz of vuvuzelas and Brazil 2014 saw the hosts infamously bundled out by Germany in a 7-1 thrashing.
But what’s memorable about Russia 2018?
Although England’s campaign fell desperately short in the semi-finals to Croatia, the nation can lay claim to the catchy, unofficial soundtrack of the tournament, ‘It’s coming home!‘
England’s unexpected success in Russia had the fans daring to dream that they could bring the title home for the first time since 1966.
Their belief was built on wins against Tunisia, Panama, Colombia (on penalties) and Sweden in the quarter-finals, to reach their first World Cup semi-final since 1990.
The English have been in a buoyant mood and the sight of victory celebrations around the country was partly the release of long suffering through the country’s recent history of underwhelming performances at international tournaments.
— FIFA World Cup 🏆 (@FIFAWorldCup) July 8, 2018
Progress to the final four of the tournament has captured the nation’s attention as supermarkets and motorways have turned into ghost-towns on England match days.
The country’s official World Cup slogan for Russia 2018 is ‘Send Us Victorious’, however as momentum built in the Three Lions’ campaign, the nation has rallied around the ‘It’s coming home!’ catch-cry.
And while the phrase has gone global, it’s also prompted many to ask where it came from and what it meant.
The phrase comes from an English football anthem called ‘Three Lions’, which was created by comedians Frank Skinner and David Baddiel when England hosted the 1996 European football championships.
‘It’s coming home’ referred to England hosting their first major football tournament since their 1966 World Cup triumph.
But it has since taken on greater meaning for England as the birthplace of football (in 1863) and the country’s campaign to bring the World Cup trophy ‘home’.
‘Three Lions’ is a song that sums up the disappointment and despair of supporting English football.
Failure at major tournaments – including not qualifying for the 1974, 1978 and 1994 World Cups, and failing to get out of the group stage at Brazil 2014 – has made England the butt of international footballing jokes.
In an ironic twist, the song was also released for the same tournament in which current England manager Gareth Southgate missed a penalty in a semi-final loss to Germany.
Penalty shootouts have been part of England’s misery at major tournaments for some time. They had been knocked out of the 1990, 1998 and 2006 World Cups in a shootout as well as the 1996, 2004 and 2012 Euros.
In Russia 2018, all that changed when the Three Lions held their nerve to beat Colombia in a shootout.
That victory tapped into another sentiment of the song: the constant belief and dreams of English fans that their luck will change.
And that belief looked like it might have carried them all the way to the final until Croatian striker Mario Mandzukic seized on a half-chance in 109th minute of the semi-final to shatter, for the time-being, those dreams.
The English football team and fans have gone through a lot of heartbreak on their journey to the 2018 Russia World Cup, which is why they crave success so much.
And there is a sense that ‘It’s coming home’ was more reality than comedy as England emerged as a credible force in world football at this tournament.
England has also proven they have arguably the ‘strongest’ club competition in the world with the Premier League.
The claim is bolstered by the fact that 39 players in the four semi-final teams at the World Cup play their club football in the EPL.
Four teams, 39 #PL players, one prize 🏆
— Premier League (@premierleague) July 9, 2018
While continuing to attract top foreign talent from all around the world, the Premier League has also produced every English player in its youthful 2018 Russia World Cup squad, including players of the calibre of Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Jordan Pickford.
The long wait for more World Cup success will continue but the English fans have enjoyed riding the ‘It’s coming home’ wave.
— Chris Williamson MP (@DerbyChrisW) July 9, 2018