July 12, 2021

On Coping With Disappointment

So, England lost. Not what I’d hoped for. I had face paints and bunting and everything.

I feel pretty flat this morning. But it does feel different to other England footballing disappointments I’ve lived through (which have been numerous). And I think it’s this: because whilst we lost, I feel oddly hopeful.

Hopeful because we have such a diverse national team - 8 out of the 11 players had a grandparent born overseas. We have a manager who will talk about racism. We have a player who takes it upon himself to fight poverty. I'll take that. That feelsdifferent to what football looked like when I was a child.

At the same time, I’m inviting my sadness in. Putting an arm around it, as Gareth Southgate puts an arm around his players. My sadness and disappointment tell me I care. If you invest yourself in something you care about, then there is a risk is that it doesn't go your way. Would you rather not have taken part at all and missed out on all the things you learnt and experienced along the way? No, I wouldn't either.

I don’t like this feeling I have right now, but it’s here today, so it might as well come in for a coffee. Pretending I don't have it won't do me any favours in the end. And that's true for everything, not just international football tournaments (but especially true for those).

So, yes, we lost, probably to the better side, but there were other battles being fought on the pitch these last few weeks - a battle for a forward looking England. And I think we’re doingpretty well on that front. Be hopeful.​