Jun 27

Embracing Togetherness at Euro 2024

As we approach the knockout stage of this year’s Euro 2024 Championship, I’ve been reflecting on my own memories from past tournaments over the years. From missed penalties to solo wonder goals, I’d forgotten how many tournaments I had followed England through. As well as all the iconic moments that are forever etched in my memory, I can also remember where I was and, more importantly, who I was with for each game. This made me think about how important significant sporting events can be as they provide the opportunity to create memories with friends and family that last beyond ninety minutes on the pitch.

This year’s tournament has already given us much to talk about – from spectacular goals to unexpected results. Despite England’s somewhat disappointing start, hope remains high among fans (well, this fan at least!) that this is just a warm-up for more thrilling performances ahead. For many families like ours though, donning our England shirts and gathering around the television has become more than just watching football; it’s become an event we can share together.

Shared Memories

Shared experiences during matches foster bonds that go beyond football; they become cherished traditions that reinforce our connections with those closest to us. Whether celebrating a goal or lamenting a near miss, doing so surrounded by loved ones adds depth to every emotion felt during the game.

So, while we nervously await England’s next game in the hope that our form will return, let’s remember that each match offers more than just entertainment – it provides precious opportunities to spend quality time with friends and family. In the meantime, here are a few of my most memorable moments watching England over the last few decades.

A Journey Through Time

Italia 90: A Heartbreaking Start

My own journey with international football began at Italia 90 in Italy. I was just eight years old and me, my mum, dad, and brother were on holiday in Brittany, France. Back then, taking kids out of school during term time wasn’t met with fines so we were able to go in early July! I distinctly remember the smell of chips frying as we walked over to the main campsite bar for the England vs Germany semi-final. Following a mesmerising game, Chris Waddle’s missed penalty in the shootout left us heartbroken, but it was Gazza’s tears that I remember most. This was my first significant footballing memory and remains one I’ll never forget.

Devonshire Arms: The Familiar Ritual

Fast forward to 1996, and the Devonshire Arms in Dore, Sheffield became my football sanctuary despite only being 14. Don’t worry, I was still on salt & vinegar crisps at this stage rather than beer! England faced Germany once again, this time in the Euro ’96 semi-finals. Stood on the seats at the back of the pub I watched on with my school friends as Gareth Southgate’s missed penalty echoed Chris Waddle’s 6 years earlier. My most prominent memory once again features Paul Gascoigne, his studs grazing the ball in extra time, just failing to score the ‘golden goal’ that would have put us into the final on home soil. Another disappointment for England but a great experience to share with friends whilst growing up.

Zante 2004: Wayne Rooney’s Emergence

In 2004, Greece surprised the world by winning the Euros and I watched the tournament with friends in Greece itself (Zante to be exact). Wayne Rooney burst onto the international scene, and his raw talent left the world in awe but it was our loss to France in our opening game that lingers most. Zidane’s free kick, Beckam’s missed penalty, Gerrard’s back pass. A loss like that was hard to take but the sun-drenched evenings, lively tavernas and, more importantly, wonderful friends made for a speedy recovery. And although I still remember the football whilst in Zante in 2004, it’s the friendship, laughter, and camaraderie that I remember more.

Sven, Capello and the English Guys: The Bad Times

Continual disappointment followed as England failed to live up to expectations at tournaments spanning Germany 2006 through to France 2016. Whether it was Paul Scholes playing on the left wing, Steve’s McClaren’s brolly (witnessed live at Wembley with my dad), Capello’s iron rule, or Roy Hodgson’s sightseeing before our historic loss to Iceland, there was plenty to grumble about during these years. However, these disappointments were always easier to stomach alongside likeminded friends and family, particularly with a beer in hand!

Home Sweet Home: Recent Years

As the years passed, I continued to watch at home with my own family. The interest from my fellow viewers varied as we watched England start to have relative success under current manager Gareth Southgate. The highlights included an unexpected World Cup semi-final in 2018 and the Euros final at Wembley in 2021. Both campaigns ultimately ended in failure, but it was great to finally see England go deeper in these competitions, particularly with my family around me.

Euro 2024: A Chance to Create New Memories

My son, James, hadn’t shown much interest in football until this year but it has been wonderful seeing him filling in his sticker book, wearing his England shirt and kicking a ball around in the garden as we approached Euro 2024. Despite England’s performances so far, it has been lovely watching England’s matches with James now that he understands more about the game. My daughter Isabel tends to dip in and out but I’m hopeful that some improvement from England will pique her interest as the knockout phase awaits!

So, here’s hoping for an upturn in form for England – not just for victory’s sake but also for those moments when we can all cheer together as one big family. And who knows, maybe James and Isabel will remember Euro 2024 as vividly as I recall Italia 90.

By Richard Fyfe, Chartered Financial Planner, Fyfe Financial

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