The likelihood of John Stones scoring a goal in any World Cup match was, until yesterday, so slim that one woman felt confident enough to tempt fate and boldly claim she would have his face tattooed on her body if he did during England’s group game vs. Panama.
Fate has a poor reputation where England are concerned and, if we’re being fair, she’s been unsympathetic in recent years. We have been a bit provocative though. Proclaiming that a group of players is a ‘Golden Generation’ because some of them have nice hair is a bold move, and for a period during the late 20th century she was so entertained by our irritation at being beaten at ‘our own game’ by a country who lost a war that she made it happen several times.
Apparently she’s holidaying to Buenos Aires this year and English football is in uncharted territory. We’ve got a squad who seem genuinely nice, thoughtful, playful and most importantly aware that they’re a team and not a group of individuals with one eye on their image rights totaliser when they score.
Jess (along with Lionel Messi and Sweden) is collateral damage in the construction of this Brave New World. Johnny Stones scored not one but two goals in the 6-1 victory, her tweet went viral, Kyle Walker offered to pay for the tattoo and Stones himself sent a short video offering his condolences. She may as well embrace it and go for the full back piece.
As for the rest of us, we’re still a bit shellshocked. These are unprecedented scenes for anyone whose consumption of England football began around Euro 96. In light of this, before all the drunk embarrassing people who read The Sun and sing ‘Ten German Bombers’ while giving Raheem Sterling suspicious side eye for er… well, being young, rich and black wake up and try to claim England’s emergence under Southgate as their own, let’s pinch it.
In the name of proper English people who are self-deprecating, daft, emotional and welcoming to anyone who isn’t a twat. In the name of people who think that crying is ok, that to apologise when someone walks into you is automatic, that instructions to ‘man up’ are a relic from a bygone era that say more about the person saying it than the person on the receiving end (Piers Morgan) and who don’t come out in a rash when a woman turns up on the telly talking about football.
For all of us. For Jess. And probably most importantly, for John, who needs the most help.