What a week for the United Kingdom. On one side England and Wales voted to leave European Union. Scotland voted to stay on. Now first minister of Scotland is comtemplating a referendum to gain independence from the United Kingdom. Thus the United Kingdom effectively has became a divided kingdom. To add insult to injury, English football team lost to Iceland.
Which one is more disturbing? Britain exiting European Union or England losing to Iceland? The Great Britain had ruled the world till seventy years before, the fifth biggest world economy, a member of UN security council, a nuclear power, and a major power in global political system, yet Britain was unable to convince her own people that staying in European Union may be beneficial for the nation.
Iceland on the other hand is a nation with 300000 people, a nation that has scored its first international goal in 2016, a nation that has a part timer as manager of national football team, beat England a one time world champion. Defeat to Iceland is embarrassing for a big player in world soccer with an established football league and players with fat pay cheque.
Since I started watching football on TV, say around 1980s, I never found English playing exciting football exciting unlike the Germans or Italians or Spaniards or even Portuguese.
1. There were stars like Gary Lineker, David Beckham, Paul Gascoigne, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, and now Wayne Rooney. There have been many others, I may have missed. Overall, most of these guys have shone in patches. They never stood up for big games.
2. Whenever I see Germany or Italy on the pitch, they bring an unseen aura of invincibility. So does France sometimes, specially when Zindine Zidane was leading them. Spain did for a while during their golden era when they won Euro and World championship. But England never brings that kind of air.
3. There is a lot of press and noise every time England comes to play. As a team England lack the aura and confidence of owning the field like any champion would. The team finds it difficult to score. Mostly they win by a narrow margin of one goal. Very often they concede goals.
4. Compare English team to that of Italy. It is difficult to score against Italy. And, Italians defend a lead like their life is at stake. England conceded a goal after taking a lead. I guess it all comes down to coaching, tactics and pride.
Coming after Brexit vote, loss to Iceland can be devastating. Consequences of exiting EU may be apparent in long term. Losing to Iceland will hurt pride of average English fans. But there is always tomorrow. Every shock wanes and every glory disappears. We wake up, dig deep and move on. May be England is an insipid football team, but life goes on. There are new talents in the England team. I am sure they will do well in the future. In India, we live with that kind of hope. We know the feeling.