It has been 40 years since England last lifted the World Cup in our one and only triumph. The team of that day contriving the Charlton brothers, Jeff Hurst, Alan Ball, Bobby Moore and the rest of the lads has been immortalized in history, with the achievement held close to the hearts of football fans across the country.
That victory against West Germany though has stood as a high point in a mostly underachieving half-century. Italia ’90 saw us progress right through to the semis only to be knocked out on penalties, penalties again saw us defeated on home soil in Euro ’96. The World Cups of 1998 and 2002 have seen us progress well but meeting unfortunate fates in the final stages.
This World Cup however has entailed fresh hope and optimism not seen for half a century. With many of our players matching and in some cases outperforming many of the foreign stars in our league, and their achievements being recognized by the likes of EUFA in their award ceremonies, the optimism this time round has a sense of basis in our having a genuine chance or success.
This optimism has been carrying right through this season unhinded until the tragic Wayne Rooney injury on the last day of the season. Waybe who would see his inclusion in any other national team in the world and seen to be the player who can make our World Cup dreams possible with his attacking power was tragically diagnosed with a broken Metatarsal. With 6 weeks put on his recovery time and just 6 weeks to the beginning of the World Cup, the optimism seen previously was replaced with disappointment.
In the few weeks since though the reports coming from Rooney and his medical staff seem to be good, and he well now might play a role in the latter stages of the competition. If though this isn’t to materialize then the magnificent attacking displays of Gerard this season could see him being given an advanced role in Rooney’s position, where-by in doing so the thinking is we will not lose any of the cutting edge we need to progress all the way.
Whether Rooney makes it to Germany or not we still have one of the best squads in the world and our chances are just as much as a number of other teams. Whether without him we will have the X factor needed to reign supreme over such teams as Brazil, Argentina, Germany or France, is yet to be seen.
Whatever happens on the injury front though I will certainly still be hanging my England flag out the window with a sense of optimism that this could be the year.
Jack Summers is currently the proprietor of http://www.footytalk.net where you can read about and exchange your views and experiences of the game with like-minded followers of football from around the globe.