11 July 2010 – Day 31
The biggest and most important game in the football diary. A Final which only happens every four years. Watched across the entire planet; the world stage on which the players can shine. A game which is burdened with an expectation that it will be exceptional and therefore forever remembered. Players aware that it is their last international game – a chance to change their life – carrying the hopes of a nation. A pressure that will either crush or inspire.
The coach will try and maintain that this is just another game. And is it, if the players can shut out everything that is going on around them. But that won’t be an easy thing. Days of media built up, interviews to give. Training to go through…please don’t let me get injured…
Sunday is now here, the game is less than 8 hours away. Every minute now a moment nearer kick-off. Your mobile just keeps ringing and texts fly in to wish you good luck. You know you have to eat but you can’t face it. Pre-match fluids have to be taken on board. You sit on the coach and stare out of the window.
A young boy is kicking a ball around the streets, slamming it hard against a wall and laughing with his mates. That simple but powerful joy rushes through you. Suddenly you are aware that hot tears are rolling slowly down your face, you are lined up and singing the National Anthem with a pride you have never felt before. You dreamt of this moment as a child, it has all led to this…..