I love the World Cup, but there is one thing I always slightly dread about it – that without exception, whenever I bring up my excitement about the World Cup, the first question I get asked is whether or not I actually think America will get anywhere.
Perhaps this sounds strange to readers, but as I am half American, grew up in the United States, and kept the accent, it’s not a bad question to ask. But the truth is I could care less about the United States football team. I couldn’t even name one player of their squad if my life was at stake. When it comes to football, it’s always been England.
I’m lucky enough that the other half of me is British. My Dad was born and raised in England, and I don’t remember anything of my early years of football that happened outside of the UK. We travelled to England in the summers from the first year of my birth, and so we were always in the home of football when the World Cup was on.
For me, my World Cup memories are of my family sitting on the couches in my Granddad’s living room watching all the games—but paying special attention when England played.
The love affair with the three lions was slow burning for me – but when I was 12 (during World Cup 1998) suddenly the game changed.
I fell just a little bit in love with Alan Shearer and was devastated when England went out. From that point on the love affair with English football began. It wasn’t easy – where I grew up in America we didn’t have English football on TV, and we had to drive an hour to Philadelphia just to watch Premier League games – but my Dad and I did it.
In 2001, when I was 14, my Dad and I flew over to England to head to Anfield for my first England game – a World Cup qualifier in which England beat Finland 2-1, and my father and I ended up walking home through the hills of Essex at 2am. 14 years later, I still remember every minute of that trip.
I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that English football was one of the factors in why I moved to London 10 years ago, as well as a cherished shared interest for my Dad and I. It does amaze me some times how little I feel connected to America when it comes to the game, but really, it was always going to be England. This is where I learned about the beautiful game, and this is where I hope to one day see it perfected.
Having said that, I don’t believe I’ll see perfect football from England in this World Cup, but I must admit that I feel an optimism for England that I’ve not felt in years.
Recent World Cup and Euro tournaments have seen us submit tired, predictable teams in which no one has to do much pushing for a place.
This is the first year we suddenly have a crop of different faces—most of whom are young and tremendously ambitious, including Sturridge, Sterling, Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Lallana. They will not let the remainders of the ‘Old Guard’ sit tidy in their places, and this gives me a tremendous amount of hope for the tournament. Will they win the World Cup this year? Probably not, but consider the team we will enter into Euro’s in two years team.
I’m backing England for LaFootyettes this year (although I have put money on Belgium, cause, you know, priorities) so I’m sure you’ll be hearing from me a bit – and hopefully not just during the group stages.
And if you happen to find yourself crammed into a pub next to an American screaming for England at the top of her lungs, don’t be too surprised. She’s one of the sensible ones.
Chat to me about England, or yell at me for being a terrible American on @makingthemarrow or tweet us @LaFootyettes.