I was three years old when England last beat Germany in the finals of a tournament. I have vague memories of it. We had a telly, which was rare in 1966. The house was full of my elder brothers friends, neighbours, relatives etc and a big party was had. I wasn't really aware of what was going on, but the joyous day made a big enough impression. For the 1970 World Cup, Dad upgraded to a Colour TV. For the quarter final, the house wasn't quite as full and the long years of hurt at the hands of Germany had started.
It has been a very long time. When I saw Gareth Southgates team selection, I felt that he'd been far too conservative. I went to the Mill Hill Services club to watch the game with friends. The slow pace, the continual sideways passing, Harry Kane missing a gilt edged chance that he'd have buried six months ago did not bode well. Jordan Pickford pulled off a couple of fine saves. It felt to me that the match was slowly grinding towards its inevitable conclusion. I was delighted to see Jack Grealish emerge from the bench, but felt is was harsh on Saka who had looked one of Englands most progressive players. I am a fan of Grealish, who makes things happen. In the second half, England looked far more solid. AND THEN.....
England finally put together a series of good offensive passing and Raheem Stirling who started the move buried it. The Services club erupted. Interestingly, the club has multiple tellies and the one we watched was three seconds ahead of everyone else. We were on our feet celebrating, before the key pass was made for the rest of the club! I was so pleased for Raheem Stirling. He has been the difference for England. He seems to always be in the right place at the right time at key moments. A few minutes later, a loose pass from Stirling almost undid all the good work, but this wasn't the Germany we all know and love. England turned the screw, took control and having been almost invisble for most of the game, Harry Kane finally remembered who he was and what he does. Grealish put a sublime ball in and Kane buried it. That was that. You could see it in the German players, the belief went. At the final whistle, the club exploded. But lets keep our heads screwed on. This isn't even a quarter final. In truth, Germany were awful. Our next game is against Ukraine. They are unfancied, but can play with total freedom. England will be in Rome instead of at Wembley.
It was a night to remember. The two goals were almost from another game, incisive, clinical. It seems to me that every time Jack Grealish plays, he adds another 0 to has value. Roll on Saturday. It occurs to me that if the tournament had happened last year when it was supposed to, the likes of Grealish, Foden, Saka, Mount, etc would have been considered a bit to inexperienced. We have a great squad now. Lets just hope it isn't just another false dawn. Having said that, we've beaten World Cup finalists Croatia and Germany so far. That isn't a bad start.