Sharing is caring

Sharing is caring

I grew up with four older sisters who have varying levels of engagement with football. But one of my sisters has absolutely no interest in it whatsoever, and apathy that became an outright antipathy as she began to follow rugby and Formula 1. When I was younger she would talk about how footballers were too removed from the real world and the whole sport made her feel a little queasy.

I have only ever known her to willingly engage in football discussion once. It was in June 1996, minutes after David Seaman had saved a couple of penalties in England’s Euro 96 quarter-final shootout win against Spain. A few minutes after the final whistle as celebration could be heard in gardens across our street, the phone rang.

I picked it up and it was Kim. She simply yelled, ‘I bloody love your goalkeeper!’ To this day it is the only time she has ever willingly spoken to me about football. That summer, David Seaman’s exploits for England turned him into a national hero. Wheels take longer to turn in international football due to the sporadic calendar but it still feels totally absurd that Seaman did not make the England number 1 position his own until he had reached his 30s.

The wider football fandom really couldn’t see why Arsenal fans held him in such high regard. That summer, it all changed. Those penalty saves against Scotland and Spain during such a culturally significant tournament (in truth, a culturally significant moment in England’s popular culture in general) saw opinions of Seaman traverse overnight. Everyone else finally saw what we Arsenal fans could see.

It’s a very satisfying feeling when the country clutches one of your players to their bosom and you, effectively, get to tell everyone you were right about them all along. I had a really similar experience in 2004, when I returned to uni after the summer holidays.

My flatmate, Will, knew his onions and came close to a professional football career himself (even having taken the academic route as opposed to the YTS route available to him, he continued to play in the ninth and tenth tiers until his early 30s). For the whole Invincibles season, we argued bitterly about the defensive abilities of Ashley Cole. Will was convinced that Cole was a good attacker but that he couldn’t defend.

I argued about it with him about it often. Following a sterling Euro 2004 performance, most notably against Cristiano Ronaldo and Port

…. to be continued
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