We ‘Aren’t’ The Champions…
This summer something extraordinary is happening again. Something familiar and very welcome - albeit often a little frustrating too.
It happens every four years without fail (two if you count the Euros), but there’s always a little bit extra excitement in the air during a World Cup year.
Once the football season finishes, you’ll find us counting down the days, waiting with anticipation for the soccer celebrations to kick off proper. All charts are secured, sticker books swapped and the TV schedule is taken over – quite literally – by eager fans who are quickly swept up in the ensuing match day manias.
I say fans, but it’s really just Boy 1 and me at present, although Boy 2 is finally starting to show a glimmer of interest this time around (thankfully).
Outnumbered, mummy is banished to the bedroom, particularly in the first round stages when it seems to be wall-to-wall Ronaldo and Messi seven-days-a-week.
There’s something even more magical about our tournaments however, because we get two bites of the cherry and double shots at the title.
With an English dad and Portuguese mum – my dynamic duo are spoilt for choice when it comes to supporting a sporting team. It’s the Three Lions vs. The Navigators and god forbid should they ever meet each other en route to the final.
But with twice the excitement comes twice the expectation and the hype is cranked up to full notch as we prepare to champion our respective teams into oblivion.
Of course daddy is completely English and mummy patriotically Portuguese, but the boys are split, as they should be, so it’s really a win win, or lose lose situation in England’s case, for them most of the time.
This embarrassment of riches means our international tournaments are real celebrations, giving us something to shout about long into the summer on many occasions.
It’s a dream that I’m pleased has been passed on. My own journey ignited by the classic capers of Lineker and co in the more than memorable Italia 90 – now a frightening 28 years ago.
The romance burned bright into July all those years ago as England marched merrily into the semi finals, only to be cruelly out-manoeuvred by the West Germans from the penalty spot and denied their rightful place in the final.
I can still recall the thrill of that last minute winner against Belgium, the nerve-shredding penalties against Cameroon and the euphoric equaliser in the semi-final, which took us to the brink of sporting world dominance once more.
A heady height I’ve yet to re-experience in the following all too familiar excruciating years of hurt, Portugal’s unlikely triumph in the 2016 European Championships a pleasing recent distraction for us all.
There’s more than simply football to focus on here though. This global gathering gives the boys a fascinating insight into different cultures and customs, a window of opportunity to experience life beyond their boundaries and delve into the different for a few weeks every few years.
They’re pretty well rounded in the first place, with regular visits to mummy’s hometown topping up their Portuguese passion and doting foreign grandparents more than ready to shower them in affection at every opportunity.
But it always helps to further broaden their horizons and gives us yet another excuse to brandish the atlas and plot our courses to faraway and unpronounceable lands.
And as full time eventually approaches and the trophy is finally lofted, so the sticker books and wall planners are packed away, another soccer sensation consigned to the memory banks.
It’s never long before that fever pitch is reached again however and if ‘they think it’s all over’ too soon, the next knock out competition is always just around the corner to make sure ‘it’s coming home’ for us all to enjoy together once more.......