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The Euro 2020 Final Is A Once In A Lifetime Opportunity To Be Savored And Nothing More

In the case of daytime television, you get what you put in.

You’d have to have been tuned in to ITV scheduled programming for four hours on Friday morning to witness a picture of England as it stands on the verge of greatness once more.

So it’s not quite a photo, but it was well worth it.

It all started with a 10-year-old girl named Belle from Bromley crying because of Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield.

On Wednesday night, she went viral after Mason Mount gave her his shirt in the Wembley throng, and it all got too much for her, and she could only cry into her father’s shoulder.

And then she was surprised once more, this time with a special video greeting from Mr Mount, and it all became a little too much for her.

The show then seamlessly transitioned to three middle-aged popstars who were drawn back together by the power of football, and more especially by the chance to sing about how much Gareth Southgate turns them on on Loose Women.

Suddenly it was time for the news, and there he was, five months shy of turning 80, raising his fist to the sky while strapped into a special harness at the very top of the London Eye.

So that was the end of it.

Every generation has gone completely bats*** crazy, whether it’s a man, a woman, a child, a father, a daughter, a brother, a sister, a son, or a grandfather.

And perhaps an intergenerational triptych broadcast on ITV on a weekday morning captures the essence of everything.

There’s no law that says these once-in-a-decade athletic events can’t be allowed to pass without allowing a window into the nation’s soul to be crowbarred open.

The fact that so many people work for such a long time in quest of meaning is due to the fact that the search can never be completed, because there is none to be found.

Of sure, a magnificent story will suffice.

No one will check if the equation actually balances as long as you present your work.

Whatever someone wants to put onto England’s football team, Harry Maguire’s brow is big enough to hold it all.

By now, we’ve all heard enough of the myths and stories.

For example, the notion that “Gazzas tears baptised modern football,” washing away hooliganism and bringing ladies and children in.

It’s persuasive enough, but two years later, it was Rupert Murdoch’s massive money stream that did it.

A post-empire nation appeared to find its identity in London 2012 by projecting itself onto a man named Mohamed, who was born in Somalia yet spoke like a Londoner and sprinted like the wind.

But, the hard work of austerity was already well underway.

The “Go Home” vans had already been ordered.

Even the myth’s sporting features are eroding, thanks to more difficult-to-ignore suspicions about doping.

The desire to run up to Gareth Southgate’s infinitely meaningful buffet and stuff one’s plate high with the same old dish has already become overwhelming, and it will continue on Sunday, regardless of the outcome.

Sport does not bring people together; in fact, it does not bring people together at all.

It is, at best, a temporary anaesthetic for division-related injuries.

Someone on Facebook is ecstatic about the proto-aggressive idea of “we’re gonna leave Europe but take their football with us” for everyone who hopes that an England triumph will rekindle Gareth’s vision of progressive patriotism.

On Wednesday night’s evidence, there are a sizable number of people who believe that moment of pure sporting pleasure is also the ideal time to slam Priti Patel on Twitter.

It’s already plainly evident that this new, seemingly fantastic thing – having a capable football club to support – is in fact just another thing to fight over in an endless internet war.

There is no evidence – none at all – that Gareth and his ilk are sucking the poison from society while making people feel happy.

There’s also no proof that they can.

In the mid-eighties, the Conservatives had their doubters.

What their critics lacked was a new type of phone with which they could commemorate Gary Lineker’s hat-trick against Poland by yelling digital blue murder in all caps at Douglas Hurd.

People are naturally eager to be on the verge of a major cultural event.

People on the left haven’t had much to cheer about in recent years, so an English football team full of players who continue to fight and beat the government over racism, poverty, and inequality, while reinventing the entire notion of what a footballer is, is a genuinely fascinating commodity – especially if you ignore the one who had a gang bang during the game.

Some of the aforementioned individuals appear to believe that the events on the field on Sunday – Southgate and Mancini’s tactics; the wisdom of the substitutions, even if God spare us; a penalty shootout – will signal a moment of victory or tragedy for their political ideas, as well.

That is egregiously stupid.

Football can and does serve as a powerful instrument for protest.

It’s also a high-profile advertisement for actual social fairness, considering that it’s about the only industry in which talentless people with the appropriate connections can’t get ahead.

Yet, there isn’t much of a difference.

The outcome of a football match has no bearing on material reality.

If it did, powerful individuals would have fought it for decades.

Politicians wouldn’t rush to get as close to it as possible; instead, they’d run a mile away.

Sport can only illuminate the path in retrospect.

Only in the rear-view mirror can the way be seen.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to savor, and nothing more.

It has nothing to do with Brexit.

It has nothing to do with Covid-19.

It’s about Belle from Bromley crying twice in two days on TV.

It’s about Atomic Kitten, who are both only 40 years old, and are quite likely to return to No. 1 with a song that has had two of its lyrics changed into erotic fiction about Gareth Southgate and now makes no sense at all.

It’s also the tantalizing notion – with no disrespect to Sir Geoff Hurst, who stands in the clouds with his carabiner on – that it might be someone else’s turn to feast out for half a century on their exploits in a single football game.

That is all there is to it.

It’s the wonderful, epic, exuberant childishness of it all that makes life worthwhile.

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