Tony Gillan: If England don't win it, please don't let it be Portugal, Iceland or France

The knockout stage of the Euros begins on Saturday and everyone wants England to win.

Monday, 20th June 2016, 1:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 21st June 2016, 1:03 pm
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo.

The whole world loves us English, although it’s hard to attribute this to any single reason.

Perhaps it’s because we don’t bang on about our single tournament win of half-a-century ago.

We rise above the temptation as it would be immodest, vulgar and more than a little sad.

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Maybe it’s due to the efforts of England’s supporters, renowned globally as ambassadors for this land as they travel the continents showing temperance, unwavering morality, respect for other nations, charitable works, healing the sick; that sort of thing.

Or it could be the efforts of the “band” that follows the team.

These sublimely gifted minstrels are universally admired and are in no way regarded as tuneless, talentless, grating, embarrassing and worthy of a banning order for noise pollution.

Chief among England’s admirers are the Scots.

They didn’t qualify themselves and so have taken a keen interest in their neighbours’ progress in France.

We are reliably informed of the hand-wringing angst that was displayed in bars north of the border when Wales took the lead on Thursday.

But it isn’t just the Scots who have taken the three lions to their hearts.

It’s a matter of common decency to support England. Despite what they may wear and sing, supporters of all the other countries at the Euros want our lads to win really.

This is born of an understandable shame at being foreign.

Try as we might, we can’t make them feel any better about this.

However, we have to concede that there is a particle of historical evidence which suggests that England may fail to become European champions.

With our stiff upper lips and our unparalleled facility for making excuses, we are prepared for even this unlikely outcome.

So, just for fun, let us make the entirely hypothetical suggestion that one of the other countries can win the Euros.

In such a remarkable circumstance, who would we want to lift the trophy?

There is no obvious preference, just as long as it isn’t one of the following.


It should be said that Cristiano Ronaldo is the best player in the tournament and has provided its finest moment so far.

It would require a heart of marble not to have guffawed loudly when he missed that penalty against Austria.

This was after four days after his virtuoso display of tantrum throwing following his team’s failure to beat Iceland, who had deliberately and with malice aforethought defended their own goal. The stinkers.

Twisting his face almost round to the back of his head, Cristiano took a break from feigning injury to declare that Iceland (population 320,000) had a “small mentality.”

Is irony banned in Portugal?


For the rest of our lives, whenever some highly implausible sporting outcome is being dismissed out of hand, we will be subjected to the comment of: “Ah, but look at Leicester.” We could do without “and Iceland” being added to it.


The most commonly cited reason for wishing failure upon the French is “because they’re French.”

Well, we will not abase ourselves with such petty xenophobia at this newspaper.

The reason for not wanting the French to win is because West Ham’s Dmitri Payet would probably be pivotal to such a triumph.

That club has spent 50 years burbling that “West Ham won the 1966 World Cup.”

They will have no compunction about declaring that they also won the 2016 Euros and take us up to a round century of talking complete moon juice.

So up with the English and down with the rest.

Egomaniac broadcaster Alan Green will boycott the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Excellent news for listeners to BBC radio.

Green’s sermons, interspersed with the occasional descriptions of football matches, have irritated audiences for decades.

Never one to relinquish self-importance, the “commentator” has said there is “absolutely no question of me going there,” so we may have to muddle by with someone competent.

The issue is one of safety and if it was anyone else his decision would be taken at face value.

But as this man has failed to utter a sentence devoid of the pronouns “I,” “me” or “my” since the late 1970s, then our cynicism may be excused.

He is yet to confirm if he will be going to West Ham next season.