Belfast Telegraph

Steven Beacom: I'm cheering on England at the World Cup

Come on England. Yeah, that's right – I'm supporting England in this World Cup.

Don't think they'll win it, but I really hope they do.

Some of you may be frothing at the mouth at the very thought of Steven Gerrard lifting the most famous trophy in sport on July 13 in Rio.

Years ago I'm not sure I would have been dancing for joy myself at the prospect of an England skipper getting his hands on the golden treasure.

But times have changed.

And so too the England set up. It's understated now rather than over the top.

Gone is the arrogance that wafted around previous squads when players would boast about doing this and that at tournaments only to do nothing at all.

They believed their own hype so much you were almost willing them to mess up. In a penalty shoot-out if possible.

Now they seem a much more humble and realistic bunch.

Finally Team England have realised that if you can't walk the walk, after too much talk you end up looking silly. It's taken 48 years of hurt for the message to sink in.

England don't enter this World Cup as a major footballing force. They aren't Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Spain or Italy come to that.

In 2014 England occupy the role of plucky underdogs with an element of surprise – a bit like Cameroon in 1990. Those are the nations we normally love getting behind, so why not England?

I wasn't convinced Roy Hodgson should have been appointed as boss and still have reservations about his tactical acumen, but he appears to be running a happy camp that is all about the team rather than individuals.

Sven Goran Eriksson was more besotted with David Beckham than any of his girlfriends while Fabio Capello's reign was characterised by constant re-runs of the John Terry show, which didn't end well.

Off the pitch, issues clouded everything England were involved in. Under Hodgson it's what happens on the pitch that counts.

Even the WAGS rarely get a look in. In the World Cup in Germany 2006, they competed against each other to grab front page coverage.

As you can imagine that didn't help spread a feeling of togetherness among their men.

Today it's all about football. The circus has left town.

Whether England are good enough to stay in the tournament until next month remains to be seen but the longer they remain in Brazil the better.

Sure, it will be wonderful watching the other nations with all their silky skills, but with Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland not in South America, no nation will get the juices flowing here like Ing-er-land.

Being a neutral is all well and good, relaxing even. Football though is at its most appealing when the outcome matters to you.

Sitting on a fence is uncomfortable after a while. You have to come down at some stage.

Some of you will never back the English, perhaps because of political and historical reasons, hoping our neighbours will be humiliated with club heroes such as Stevie G, Wayne Rooney, Joe Hart and Jack Wilshere becoming villains in the summer because of those Three Lions on their shirts.

Me? I'm on England's side. Well, until the arrogance returns anyway.

Belfast Telegraph


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