This is England

This is England.

This is England: Raheem Sterling, whose big sister would go with him to training and back every day, three buses each way, and never once complained. Raheem Sterling, who called the day he bought his mum a house ‘the best day of my life.’

This is England: Jordan Henderson, who spent most of the first lockdown last year organising the other 19 Premiership captains to help raise money for the NHS.

This is England: Marcus Rashford, who secured free school meals for vulnerable kids during school holidays after the government had refused to extend the programme. Marcus Rashford, who lives by the words of his mother Melanie: ‘take pride in knowing that your struggle will play the biggest role in your purpose.’

This is England: Mason Mount, who gave the shirt he’d worn in the semi-final victory over Denmark to a 10-year-old girl called Belle in the crowd, and in doing her made her smile a smile so incandescent it could melt the Siberian permafrost.

This is England: Tyrone Mings, who spent part of his childhood in a homeless shelter, who played non-league football while working as a barman and mortgage advisor, and who tells kids at the coaching camps he runs that the game is nothing unless they enjoy it. Tyrone Mings, who was taunted with monkey chants on his England debut against Bulgaria and didn’t pretend he hadn’t heard, who turned to the assistant referee and said, firmly but without aggression, ‘did you hear that?’ As in: we’ve got a problem here, you’re part of the officiating team, so this is your problem too and I’m not going to let you duck it, because though this was the most important match of his life there were some things which were more important still than that. He also delivered prescriptions and food to those in need in his local area throughout covid.

This is England: Luke Shaw, who when playing for Southampton watched Liverpool players file unseeingly past two small boys waiting for their autographs, and who went over and said ‘I know I don’t play for your team, but will I do?’ and posed for a photo with them which they will never forget.

This is England: Declan Rice, who would play cage football in New Malden every day after school and all day on Saturdays, not because he was the best but because he wasn’t.

This is England: Bukayo Saka, who got As and A*s in his GCSEs because his parents insisted that he work as hard inside the classroom as he did on the pitch. Bukayo Saka, whose Christian name in Yoruba means ‘adds to happiness.’

This is England: Kieran Trippier, who still speaks regularly to his old teachers at Woodhey High School in Bury because they looked out for him and his brothers. Kieran Trippier, who every day has cause to reflect on the truth of the inscription by the school gates: ‘where dreams may grow.’

This is England: Kalvin Phillips, whose mum worked two jobs while his dad was in and out of prison. One of those jobs was at Harpo’s Pizzas, where you can now order the Kalvin’s Special.

This is England: Gareth Southgate, who until recently was most famous for missing a penalty he had the balls to volunteer for even though he’d never taken one before, because he knew what Teddy Roosevelt meant when he talked about the man in the arena.

These, too, are England: a system which rewards the venal, the vainglorious and the mendacious; tribes which assume the worst of each other and snipe over Brexit, lockdown and masks; public services creaking under the strain of decades of underfunding; kids getting stabbed and women getting attacked; morons who boo the opponents’ national anthems and shine laser pens at their goalkeepers; and so very, very much more. These too are England, and they will still be so next week, next month and next year.

But, today, there is an England of Young players who should hold their heads high, let them hear you roar your pride, they deserve your praise, because they didn’t let us down. Do not disgrace them. Be kind, show respect. National Pride should not ride on their shoulders they should ride on the shoulders of a nation proud.

#team #equal #Respect #bekind