There are many reasons why a Welshman might not extend the most gracious of support to an English football team. I was brought up from a young age to see Wales as my first priority in sport, and anyone playing against England as my second priority!
Whilst this might have been understandable childhood banter at that age, the English press and many of their fans kept providing the kind of arrogant sense of entitlement, combined with recurring failure, throughout the 1970’s that made it difficult to offer support to their team.
Then came 1983, with the English Football Association announcing they were no longer taking part in the annual Home Nations Championship, with a main reason being that they wanted to play stronger teams in more competitive matches! Understandable if they had a pedigree of winning major World and European Tournaments, but… they often struggled even to qualify for such tournaments!
Which brings me to 2021. Congratulations to Gareth Southgate and all of his squad for the completely different way they present themselves; and, now being a team that are showing they can compete with the best in the world. I, for one, hope they do win a major tournament soon (even if they do beat Wales in the semi-final to get there!).
And what has brought about this decades long change of mindset? A persistent minority of vocal vile English racists!
Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho… it took enormous courage to step up and do what you did on the night. Raheem Sterling and Tyrone Mings… congratulations for speaking out in the way you have. Particular kudos go to those of you who have shown up our despicable Government for their perpetual populist stance. You have changed my feelings towards the English team going forward.
And, a final congratulations to Italy… best team on the night and across the whole tournament.
Until we speak again, may all of the anonymous racist thugs just stay in the swamp where they belong… you will most likely find that Donald Trump is the plug preventing it from draining.