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My cross to bear: what it means to support England in these divided times

I’m sympathetic to this point of view as I’m not patriotic in the slightest. However, I have enjoyed supporting England on three occasions – firstly, during Italia 90 when I was 18 and had just finished my A levels, secondly, during Euro 96 when I was at a shellshocked, oranje-packed Liverpool Street station the night we beat Holland 4-1, and finally in 2002 when I was absolutely smashed and we gathered in Trafalgar Square after beating Argentina 1-0.

Oh yeah, add 1998 when I watched Argentina beat England 2-1 at a square in Salvador, Brazil, in the company of bearded, mate-sipping Argentinians. Rather depressingly, the local bars assumed I was going to start fighting as soon as they found out I was English. The France Brazil final was interesting to watch in a stormy Rio.

All too often, England supporting descends into boorish, no-surrender-to-the-IRA, let’s smash up this nice city centre mode. I’ll despair if booing taking the knee becomes a thing, but no doubt it will.

What is fun about international football is the weirdness – I’m looking forward to Austria take on North Macedonia at 5pm on a Sunday – the colour and the fact that, yes, football really is a universal language. I’ll just be supporting underdogs this time round.