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72

KICK IT! Goodbye England's Rose (Lion, whatever)

by FIFA World Cup 2010 Week 3

And once more the World Cup says goodbye to England, and we are left to wonder if Wayne Rooney will grow that beard and look up a billboard showing the glowing face of Miroslav Klose splattered in black, red and gold paint. He certainly won't be beating Federer at Table Tennis, that's for sure.

I will admit to being a German fan for one of those long-forgotten yet ultimately stupid reasons (and I don't think this was a uniform thing). Yet because of that, I have always supported the German team at the World Cup. After all New Zealand were never there at a time when I was old enough for truly complex thought (in 1982 I was three); and I never felt a connection to England, despite the clear the lineage on my father's side.

After having said that this isn't a uniform thing, I do own a classic German adidas jersey but honestly my support for the team exists only during a World Cup year. This was an issue one evening when wearing the jersey to a Turkish restaurant on Queen St. The waiter began talking to me in fluent German (it's the red hair, it's happened many times before and since, most notably in Paris where street hawkers offered me things by yelling "Mein Herr! Mein Herr!). But this night when I explained "Ich spreche kein Deutsch" he simply took that to mean I was an English speaking devout follower of the Bundeslega, and began to ask me various questions about players I had never heard of. All of this was not helping me impress the girl I was with.

And yet despite, or perhaps because of, this I am still a fan of the Germans (no matter what Stephen Fry says).

Although the English/German football rivalry is interesting. By being the runners-up in their group England was lining up history. First a match against the Germans, and if they won that (spoiler: they didn't, although there was a lovely homage to the 1966 final performed by Frank Lampard) it would've been a match against the Argentineans. Could the English have kept it together with Maradona on the sidelines?

Probably not. Sadly (for them) the English seem to be much like the All Blacks when it comes to World Cups. So full of dread and self-doubt when in the game that all the flaws and minor indiscretions that you can shake off any other day, suddenly become ten-tonne weights slowing your legs and making you hate your opposition and your teammates with equal passion.

The English should watch next year's world cup with interest. See how well the All Blacks do with the added pressure of playing at home. Then they can see if they want to bid to host it.

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