It has been said in the aftermath of England’s penalty shoot-out win over Colombia, that the youngsters in the side have grown up over the course of this tournament.
What appeared concerningly like an inexperienced, potentially immature team has done what no England side has done before, and done so convincingly. A World Cup quarter-final awaits – and who knows where, beyond there.
The manager has grown into his role, to the point that it now seems to fit as immaculately as his waistcoat. The players have taken everything thrown at them – fouls, intimidation, last-minute equalisers – and used it as fuel in a thrilling reversal of fortunes for the national side.
It is a compelling argument, and not just in footballing terms.
Petty rivalries in the Golden Generation
The so-called ‘Golden Generation’ have, in recent months, revealed their own underlying childishness by admitting that they allowed club rivalries to torpedo any hopes the country had of seeing a successful England team.
It was not a wholly surprising admission given the intensity of the rivalries that exist in the Premier League, but it was a disappointing one.
It killed that England team, that generation. One year we would have been fighting Liverpool to win the league, another year it would be Chelsea. So I was never going to walk into the England dressing room and open up to Frank Lampard... - Rio Ferdinand.
Frank Lampard and Rio Ferdinand’s relationship ‘disintegrated’ because they represented different teams.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos and Barcelona’s Gerard Pique played side-by-side as Spain swept to back-to-back-to-back international titles, bringing about an Iberian ‘three-peat’ before anybody knew what the word meant.
Friendships across the barricades
In the current squad, the togetherness of the team has been genuinely refreshing.
After the Colombia game, Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold was filmed joking with Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard, proclaiming ‘it’s coming home’ with the rest of us and mimicking Lingard’s trademark ‘JL’ hand gesture.