As a Welshman, the concept of falling at the first hurdle is disturbingly familiar with me, none more so than with International Football, where in my 24 years of existance, I have seen Wales come close to qualifying for a major tournament twice – once in 1993 where a missed penalty against Romania saw us miss out on a World Cup place in USA ’94, and in 2003 where a goal from an inelligible drug cheat bastard Russian saw the Russian progress to Portugal at the expense of ourselves. Those are considered to be “good” campaigns, as usually defeat to footballing powerhouses such as Latvia, Albania, Northern Ireland and Belarus usually means byu the time we play the big teams our qualification hopes have been diminished.
It is with sheer delight that joining us on our “Extended summer holidays without football” are a large contingent of English fans. Yes, England rather spectacularly failed to qualify for Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland, and whilst the rest of Europe can enjoy some fantastic action without worrying about being assulted by skinheaded, lager drinking, unemployed Sun readers. Austria and Switzerland: You will remain beautiful and untrashed.
But what of England fans. What do they do for the summer? Well, a lot has been said, but one question is “How can a football loving nation find a team to support? We can’t support other nations, what with Three Lions on our shirt etc.”. As somebody who supports anybody but England, I hope to advise you on first picking a team to support, and how to support them.
Picking a Team
First of all, who will you support? If you like a Premiership team, you may support countries who have your players (the BBC has a handy guide for this). Or you may have visited a country to support. Support the underdogs, or even arch rivals (a lot of people have chosen Germany, largely because they’re England’s rivals – but mostly because they play a similar style of football, and generally play fair). You have your own reasons though – one of my friends was dating a Greek during the last tournament, so supported Greece. Turns out they won the whole thing, so he was drunk on Ouzo and fat on feta cheese and olives. Well done him!
Supporting a Team
Depending on your budget, supporting a team could be buying a shirt, down to simply wearing a badge or a flag of the nation. It doesn’t need to be expensive, and most European nations have great beer (Germany especially) and food (Portugal), so it’s easy to live like your continental cousins.
The Final Answer
So, who are you supporting? I’ve plucked for Sweden, as it’ll probably be the next country I visit, plus they have a great knack of beating England. So they’re my team, who are yours?