Until Tuesday evening I had watched every single competitive football encounter between England and Germany, the majority of which I had not enjoyed very much. This one would have been different if I had been able to watch it, but I wasn’t. It was my daughter’s school-leaving ceremony and I just had to be there. When I say “had to”, I’m afraid I don’t mean it in the sense that I couldn’t possibly miss it as I’m a devoted father and generally a good person; I mean it in the sense that she had made clear to me that I had to be there or she would never forgive me.
I watched the first half at home, got to the school on my motorbike during half-time, and managed to catch the first 18 minutes of the second half on my phone standing outside pretending to wait for someone. As the event kicked off, full-time at Wembley was still 20 minutes away; the score was 0-0. I started to wonder whether we would finish in time to see the inevitable penalty shootout. During the opening speeches I heard a passenger plane overhead and was selfishly glad that others were missing out, too. And they couldn’t even check their phones up there; truly, there’s always someone worse off than yourself.
I checked mine to see England had scored. And from that point I never took my eyes off it. I lived Muller’s miss and Kane’s goal as keenly as if I had been there. Mercifully, by the time the final whistle was blown, we were into giving out prizes. I channelled my emotional energy into clapping long and loudly.
I am delighted England have chanced upon the secret of knocking out Germany: make sure I can’t see the match. Accordingly, I am going to follow England’s remaining games only via text. That should do the trick. Relax, England fans: thanks to my sacrifice, football’s coming home.