1966 was a great year for English football. Since then? Not so much. There’ve been highs, sure – that World Cup 1982 kit was pretty smart, and some half-decent songs – but most of the 52 years since have been one crushing disappointment after another.
Indeed, the world is a much different place today than in 1966. Back then there were only three TV channels – James Corden was probably blighting all of them, somehow – and the United States and Russia were sworn enemies. How times change…
The five decades since the England football team reached the pinnacle of the game have brought political, technical and cultural revolutions and one of the few constants has been the Three Lions’ repeated failures at international tournaments. Some have been glorious failures, others embarrassing, but failures all the same.
Will World Cup 2018 be any different? Maybe. Expectations aren’t what they were ahead of tournaments past, and yet, this is one of the more impressive squads England have put together. In Gareth Southgate there’s a manager who is tactically aware, at ease with himself and who commands the respect of the players. Plus, if anyone knows the pitfalls of representing England, it’s him.
Empires have fallen since England last won the World Cup. The world has gotten smaller and football has gotten bigger. Who knows what the world will be like in another 52 years – will England still be waiting for a second World Cup? Over to you, Gareth…