England’s Euro victory could herald a new era of hope and rekindle the spirit of 1966

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The only sporting event that can have quite the same effect as a successful soccer team is the home Olympics. London 2012 took place in a setting less gloomy than twilight.

The fallout from the financial crash four years ago was still being felt through the government’s austerity programs, and there was widespread grumbling against just about everything that was involved in hosting the Games: the cost, the weather. , the prospect of terrorist attacks and just propensity to push things up.

But from the moment Danny Boyle’s gorgeous, crazy, funny, and heartwarming opening ceremony began, it seemed a country not only to find its mojo back, but to wonder why he had lost it for so long.

During the fortnight of the Games, London was a magical and charmed place: a place where foreigners chatted happily, where trains ran on time, where crowds cheered all competitors to the rafters, and where soldiers carried out checks. security with a smile. for children with wide eyes and proud of their professionalism. To paraphrase William Wordsworth, happiness was being alive that summer, but being in London was truly heaven.

And now we’re back at Wembley for a semi-final on Wednesday against Denmark and, who knows, even a final on Sunday against Italy or Spain. Winning one or even both of these matches will not in itself improve things.

As Diego Maradona said of the 1986 World Cup victory: “We haven’t changed the world, we haven’t lowered the price of bread. It was a great idea for football players to be able to solve people’s problems. I wish we could. We would all be better off.


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