Nations who’ve achieved final success in the FIFA World Cup traditionally adorn a gold star above their shirt crest, advertising to all and sundry the number of occasions they’ve been football world champions. For instance, England have won the world cup once meaning their badge adorns one star; whereas four-times winners Italy’s shirt emblem dons four stars.
Despite never lifting the world cup, the US soccer team has stars upon their breast badge commensurate to longevity of team service. Although I think I might be mistaking that with former McDonald’s working methods.
Anyhow, as the disappointing consequence of Wednesday’s semi-final defeat to Croatia, that elusive second gold star won’t be shining above the England three lions badge after Sunday evening’s FIFA World Cup final.
During a promising first half, Gareth Southgate’s over-achieving young charges created enough guilt-edged goal-scoring opportunities to arrive at the interval with an emphatic lead. Evading Croatian defenders with the stealth, speed and guile of a gazelle, the white-shirted boys playing the first 45 minutes with a freedom and belief, belying their youth and inexperience at that level.
Sadly for us Anglos, though, when the second half started England’s flimsy break advantage of 1-0 wasn’t suffice to eventually prevail over more experienced foes. Technically gifted exponents of the game from a nation nestling on the shores of the Adriatic Sea.
Shortly after the second half commenced, it was clear the young team’s momentum and belief had diminished from their performance prior to the break. I’m not party to whether that was a consequence of half time instructions, but whatever the root cause they were clearly unsettled and weary as Croatia started bossing the match.
After a second half equaliser and extra time winner gave them a deserved 2-1 victory against the spirited but inexperienced English lads, the Croats duly progressed to Sunday’s final against France.
England’s penance for defeat a 3rd place play-off with Belgium, prior to a subsequent return home to a heroes welcome. Regardless of falling just short in winning the trophy, the teams exceeding of expectations will ensure they’ll be lauded by the English public. A nation who in the last three weeks unified in support of Southgate’s young lions, in bars, viewing parks, gardens and homes.
As a consequence of missing out on the ultimate international prize, England’s lone star will remain in solitude for at least four more years. Isolated, lonely and with no badge Tinder to seek out a companion, it will live a hermit existence. Time occupied ruing first half misses by Harry Kane and Jesse Lingard, which if taken may’ve produced another step toward ending 52 years of loneliness.
While stars on Brazilian, Argentinian and German crests have a small, but close-knit, group of friends, the lonely star atop the three lions badge looks on forlornly. Friendless, it languishes on it’s tod. Envious of the French motif which, in the event of a France victory on Sunday, will acquire the shiny new mate he himself so desperately craves.
With literally no ‘quick win’ possible, or counselling available to offload the despair of solitude, the lone star will face a challenging four years. Only World Cup tournament triumphs count towards increasing star quotas on international crests, therefore even if England win the 2020 European Championships he’ll remain bereft of companionship.
Perhaps when Kane and Lingard learn of this little fella’s plight, hopefully they may feel a sense of guilt at what their sloppy finishing manifested. Remember, shirt badges have feelings too, lads.
Seriously, though, well done England for your valiant attempt at bringing home that elusive trophy. You may have incurred the wrath of the lone star for not going all the way, however feel proud that you unified a nation during an unsettling time of division, uncertainty and sparsity of good yoghurt offers.