Euro 2024

Mark Langdon: My football fever doesn't spread to Three Lions

Euro 2024 analysis and predictions

Fans of England celebrate Bukayo Saka's penalty success
Fans of England celebrate Bukayo Saka's penalty successCredit: Matt McNulty - UEFA

Sandown was awash with celebrations on Saturday evening as England beat Switzerland on penalties to reach the semi-finals of Euro 2024.

There were some people on the track – they thought it was all over – as the last penalty was smashed home by Trent Alexander-Arnold, and as I looked for a quick getaway alongside Racing Post luminary Paul Kealy to find a watering hole for the Netherlands v Turkey clash we were met by joyous scenes in the parade ring with England supporters on the shoulders of others. 

Old favourites Sweet Caroline and Football's Coming Home were belted out with gusto and there was not a hint of the ghastly Ten German Bombers song anywhere to be heard.

It was good natured, joyful and fun. Everything that you should associate with a national team progressing to the last four of a major tournament, with the only threat of violence occurring between a couple of angry Uber drivers in the car park. Good times never seemed so good.

Racing man Keals obviously couldn't care less who won, but I am a football fan. Love the game. Would happily sit through Salernitana versus Frosinone on a Sunday morning instead of doing normal things; literally thought I was having a heart attack when Lucas Moura scored that goal against Ajax, and I am counting down the days until the new EFL season starts (31 in case you were wondering).

I should be passionate. Why am I not jumping around? Good times never seemed so bloody good. Bom, bom, bom . . .

But England's quarter-final win did nothing for me. 

This is not one of those 'I hate the England national team' articles full of faux outrage because I genuinely bear no ill-feeling towards them, but at the same time I cannot get excited by them.

I watch England as I would Salernitana or Frosinone, hoping for a good game but without particularly caring who wins. 

It's not always been that way, and when the Dutch were downed in memorable style at Euro 96 it was absolutely glorious. 

Gazza's goal against Scotland in the same tournament and the noise at Wembley for the national anthem against Germany in the semi-finals are moments never to be forgotten. I was in a proper old-fashioned boozer celebrating Sol Campbell's 'winner' against Argentina in 1998 and hadn't realised it had been disallowed for a good two minutes, while the 2002 World Cup was the absolute dream with pub dates with mates at 7.30am.

We even had a flag outside our house for that World Cup. Putting it up resembled a scene involving the Chuckle Brothers – to me to you – as we unsuccessfully threw it to each outside of our windows and I reckon it's odds-on I would have been at one of those Boxpark-type places had they been around 20 years ago.

But something changed around that time, probably influenced by punting. The Three Lions were notoriously underpriced during that golden generation period and you had two choices in those days – either don't bet on the match or bet against England. Invariably betting against England proved more profitable.

Perhaps the brain can be retrained. Perhaps Harry Kane will smash one into the top corner against the Dutch on Wednesday and it will instantly feel like 1996 all over again. Who knows, maybe Kobbie Mainoo flips one over Virgil van Dijk and volleys in before celebrating with the Dentist Chair and I suddenly want to get myself down in the middle of the mayhem. Get down to Leicester Square and set off a firework from my arse. That sort of thing.

But I doubt it. If I was ambivalent to a Jude Bellingham last-minute overhead kick equaliser against Slovakia and didn't go Psycho Stuart Pearce style when the ever-so-likable Bukayo Saka ended his previous penalty trauma then I think that's it. I am lost forever.

Good times have never felt so average.    

Read more from Mark Langdon . . .

Mark Langdon: Granit Xhaka makes the Swiss tick 

Mark Langdon: Fortunate England must make use of extra life

Mark Langdon: No luck for Roberto Martinez in knockout draws 

Mark Langdon: Croatia's golden generation looking for one last dance 

Mark Langdon: Minnows making their mark at Euro 2024 

Mark Langdon: Dropping Harry Kane won't ease the pain 

Mark Langdon: Hosts were impressive but one game doesn't tell the whole story

Mark Langdon: Beers and tears - the Tartan Army should demand more 

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