And so, England’s football team comes home. Sunday evening’s defeat in a penalty shootout at the European Championships in Ukraine followed a familiar trend where effort and determination were to the fore, but disappointment was the team’s ultimate reward. Out but not down; defeated but not beaten.
At least, they were not beaten in the sense alleged by a previous England tour to Eastern Europe 38 years ago. Then, in June 1974, the team arrived in Belgrade from Sofia to play the Yugoslav side in a friendly (following a 1-1 draw with East Germany and a 1-0 victory over Bulgaria) 1 but events at the airport – in what would become known as ‘the Keegan affair’ – led to some frantic diplomatic manoeuvring, the detail of which is available in a Foreign Office file available here at The National Archives (FCO 28/2657).
- 1. The Guardian’s David Lacey wrote a piece on this subject: www.guardian.co.uk/football/2009/may/21/seven-deadly-sins-football-sloth-keegan-belgrade ^