For me, 11 July 2021 will go down in history. Not as the date of the England men’s football team’s first major final since 1966, but the first time as an adult I supported England in a major tournament. Since 1980, I have found myself looking forward to the point in tournaments when England are knocked out and I can enjoy the rest of the competition, so it was a very different experience to find myself seriously pondering the choice between Braveheart Mancini or Humble Southgate before the final.
But why did I end up supporting Anyone But England in all those other tournaments? Was it schadenfreude, the trepidation of UK media, which is dominated by the thoughts and concerns of England, reacting to an England victory? Or maybe it was just the commonplace behaviour of any football fan, helping to cement my own sense of community and belonging by the use of the “other”.