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My alarm went off at 3.45am once again this morning and rather than roll over and press snooze, I jumped up and out onto the sofa in no time as finally it was England’s turn in the round of 16. As I turned on the television, Harry Kane stood tall as he led the team out to face Colombia in England’s biggest game of football in a decade. It was that important, I decided to get the face paint out

It’s a facebook filter by the way … I didn’t really paint my face at 4am!

Was I feeling confident? 

Kind of. We’d played well against Tunisia, we put six past Panama and we were average against Belgium. However, this World Cup has thrown us all sorts of surprises with the form book going out the window, so I really wasn’t sure what to feel. 

The first half was scrappy with few memorable chances at either end leaving both teams scoreless. As the second half began, I was already starting to get nervous about that word that all England fans have grown to hate - 'penalties’. Surely not. Come on England, please score in normal time. 

And just as I was thinking this, England were awarded a penalty. A penalty in normal time that is. And that sat perfectly with me, as I had every faith in our fearless captain and goal scoring machine, Harry Kane. In the 57thminute, Kane did it again and found the back of the net from the spot. And breathe. 

Please England hold on – just 35 minutes or so to go. I can have a nap before work if the score stays 1-0. 

Inevitably, as time progressed, the game started to open-up with both teams creating a few chances. In the 93rd minute, the Colombian substitute, Mateus Uribe, hit an absolute rocket from 30 yards. Jordan Pickford reacted with one of the saves of the tournament as he flew through the air and spectacularly touched the ball over the cross bar. 

And with that, Colombia had a corner. 'Uh-oh. Please, don’t score. There’s only a few minutes to go.' 

But, we all know what happened next. Colombia scored. 1-1. And the inevitable extra time loomed. There went my nap. 

And not only that, it was advantage Colombia, with the momentum now firmly with the South Americans. Ouch. That hurt a lot. I felt like crying. 

My phone started to go crazy. 'Please not penalties' popped up several times from English friends back at home. After 30 minutes of extra time, the inevitable happened; neither team were able to score from open play, so yet again, a round of 16 game would be decided by the dreaded lottery of a penalty shootout. 

Time to hide! 

I was so nervous. My heart was racing as though I had just sprinted a Personal Best one hundred metre race and with that, I hid behind the sofa like a scared toddler! Yes. I was too nervous to watch ….  instead I peered over the sofa and now and again took a nervous glance at the television. 

When Henderson’s penalty was saved, I succumbed. I took a seat and I thought ‘here we are again … it’s all over’. But wow. How wrong I was. Uribe strode up, and saw his strike hit the cross bar. And then Kieran Trippier scored. It was all even again. Up stepped the fifth penalty taker for Colombia, Carlos Bacca, and boom – up stepped our new national hero – Everton's Jordan Pickford. Saved with an outstretched arm. Wow. England needed to score their final penalty to reach the quarter final. It fell to substitute Eric Dier. Time stood still. 

'Please England. Surely, it’s our time.' Maybe Dier heard me. He SCORED. England won their first ever penalty shoot out in World Cup history. The curse was over.  

I screamed. Screamed again. And then screamed again.  Anyone sleeping in the Gold Coast was now awake and I wouldn’t be surprised if people in England heard my screams of joy!

Next up: Sweden

England face Sweden in the quarter final after they beat Switzerland 1-0. Are they beatable? Most definitely. Are England full of confidence? Without a doubt. Will England make the semi-final? Quite possibly.

Please no more penalty shoot outs though. I don’t think my heart can take another one! 

Will England finally bring football ‘home’? 

I’m starting to feel it’s a real possibility. Come on England. One game at a time. We still believe. It’s coming home. Jesse Lingard thinks so too. He called his mum and said so! 


Categories: Opinion | World Cup

2018 world cup, #russia2018, england, three lions, #coleng

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