What is hold­ing back in­ter­na­tional foot­ball and how do we fix it?

The Sunday Guardian - - Sports -

Iwas 13-years-old, it was a school night, the evening af­ter my lit­tle brother’s first Holy Com­mu­nion and I was stood in the kitchen of my friend’s un­cle’s house. There, I was half-watch­ing Eng­land pro­tect a slen­der lead over France through the serv­ing hatch but mostly at­tempt­ing to ob­tain a girl’s phone num­ber from said friend.

He would give me the phone num­ber, he said, if I drank a sig­nif­i­cant amount of the off-green liq­uid he was hold­ing in a bot­tle in front of me. ‘OK’, I thought, ‘I want this phone num­ber’, so I drank it. It was some­thing called ‘ab­sinthe’, he said.

When I awoke found my­self back at my house, alone in the front room, with no new mes­sages on my phone ex­cept two SMS goal alerts in­form­ing me that Zine­dine Zi­dane had scored twice in in­jury time to beat Eng­land 2-1. I’ll be hon­est, I cried.

I have been tempted, in the years since, to sim­ply put those tears down to an un­fa­mil­iar­ity with grain al­co­hol or plain

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