And so, the rematch is on. Sure, England have played Germany loads of times since 1996. Euro 2000 for example, when an England in red beat a Germany in dark green in Charleroi, the city I lived in at the time. In October 2000 in the last ever game at the old Wembley stadium, the historic old toilet with the twin towers, Germany beat Keegan’s England causing Keegan to quit in sadness. And of course who can forget the 2001 5-1 mauling of Germany in Munich by the exciting young England of Owen and Beckham. And then there’s the 4-1 whopping of England all in red by the Germans at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, that was a hard one to take. But for me, that semi-final in 96 was the one. Bigger than 1990, the World Cup semi in which Waddle launched the ball into low-earth orbit, because that was held in Italy, and was about Gazza’s tears. 1996 was at home. England wore grey. It was a brilliant summer in London, and it all came crashing down in a penalty shootout. Ah well. Young Gareth Southgate missed the decisive kick for England before Andreas Möller beat Seaman and celebrated by strutting, and the BBC played Casts’s “Walkaway” over the end credits, a song which I’ve always felt should be called “Walk Away”, but always makes me relive the sheer crestfallen emotion of that moment. I can’t do those penalty shootouts you know, I can’t watch them. I end up in the kitchen. But next Tuesday morning (for me, living in California) England will play Germany in a European knockout game, once again at Wembley (the newer one with the big metal arch), once again with Southgate involved, this time as manager. I know I have Written Off The Germans (At My Peril), but no, no no no, this will end in penalties again, and I will be in the kitchen. We can hope. I had to do a quick digital drawing of Southgate, 1996, right after the penalty miss. He looks like he’s being taken hostage. In a way I suppose he was, nobody wants to be chained to the memory of penalty miss in a major semi-final on their record, which is why Stuart Pearce looked like he was expelling demons after his penalty against Spain in 96. Southgate you could say expelled his by managing England to the penalty shootout win against Colombia in 2018, but really the arc of history, the ninety-six narrative has all been heading here, to a game against Germany at Wembley in what is effectively another home Euros for England. It is, as they keep telling us, coming home.
2 thoughts on “walk away, walk away, walk away”
This ex-pat in Ireland will be cheering on England. Please god let it not go to penalties. After all the Brexit shit, Tories and Covid, I’m not sure ye could handle it.