for five-year-old England fan Milo Jones, there will inevitably be years of footballing heartbreak and agony. But not today.
The youngster was one of 32,000 fans who gathered at Bramall Lane in Sheffield to watch the Lionesses beat Sweden 4-0 in the Euro 2022 semi-finals.
And when the fans flocked to the streets of the steel city afterwards, the joy of the historic victory was unabated. Everyone was talking about football coming home.
“Amazing,” said Milo. “Great.”
It was, said father Ryan, his very first football game. “What a start,” beams the 39-year-old university teacher. “He absolutely loved it. I just hope he doesn’t always enjoy watching England so much.”
What was his favorite piece? Alessia Russo’s hacker goal. “Although he had some candy at halftime,” Jones noted. “And they were a hit, too.”
The victory means England now advance to the tournament final at Wembley on Sunday. It is the third time in the competition’s 38-year history that they have reached this stage. You never won it.
“This time,” explained Sam Sculley, a 28-year-old health care worker. “Definitely this time. We will never have a better chance of becoming champions.”
She’s been watching England for 20 years – “since 200-300 people have turned up to games” – so to see a semi-final win in front of so many spectators was something she never dared dream of.
“I’m buzzing,” she said. “I jump. I can’t stop smiling. Everything about this team is brilliant. Their passion, their skills, their awareness. Beating Sweden like that – the team is second in the world – that’s unbelievable.”
But where did that stand in two decades of game-watching? “It’s the first time I’ve seen them win a Euro semi-final,” she replies. “So I’d say that does it best.”
Sam had traveled from Warwickshire with his mother Sasha Jordan to see Sarina Wiegman’s team triumph.
“I used to play for Coventry United when I was younger and my mum drove me all over the country,” she says. “So it’s definitely my turn tonight.”
What would it mean for young people in the same position she had once been to see that kind of success now? “It will mean everything because it shows that this is their game too,” the health worker said. “This summer, hundreds of kids will go out and pretend to be Russo, Mead, Bronze. That would have been unthinkable even with the last few euros. And it’s invaluable to the game.”
One such youngster might be 11-year-old Hollie Hill.
She plays right midfield for her local club in Peterborough and was brought to Tuesday’s game – along with nine-year-old sister Lillie – by father Simon and mother Jo. They also have tickets for Wembley on Sunday.
“I can’t wait,” said the boy. “It was one of the best nights of my life, but hopefully [Sunday] will be even better. It’s just awesome.”
Jo, 44, agreed. “The way they play for each other,” she said. “There are no egos out there. They are a team.”
Dad Simon thought about it. “You put the fate of men in the shade,” decided the 47-year-old.
Hollie herself dreams of one day playing for England. Could she make it? “Well games like tonight will certainly help inspire everyone,” Jo said.
It must be said that Julia Weidenmark and Klara Rosenqvist were less fortunate.
They came from Sweden for the tournament.
“I thought we were unlucky tonight,” says Julia, a 28-year-old business controller. “I thought England were more clinical but I don’t think there was really too much in it. It was a flattering score.”
Nonetheless, the pair had enjoyed a great two weeks in England and were now planning to advance to the second semi-final on Wednesday: Germany vs France.
The winner will of course be the team that plays England on Sunday.
If it’s the Germans who go through, expect more than five decades after the England men’s triumph in another famous Wembley final to see far more talk about football coming home to 56 years of pain break up.
“Germany would be interesting,” says the 32-year-old designer Klara with some understatement. “I think you should win, but England and Germany – there’s a certain rivalry, isn’t there?”
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/england-fans-euro-2022-sheffield-b2131921.html ‘I’m humming, I’m bouncing, I can’t stop smiling’: joy for England fans as Lionesses roar into Euro 2020 final