If you had missed the quarter final and only turned on the TV in time to see the grim line-up of the BBC’s football pundits, you would have been forgiven for thinking that England had just been thrashed 8-0 by Germany, rather than achieving an emphatic victory over the Ukraine to reach the semi-finals of Euro 2020.
The sullen and sombre air in the studio as former England players Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer, Rio Ferdinand and Frank Lampard tried to absorb the result was almost palpable. It was clear that the terrible truth had gradually dawned on each one of them: England are now much better than any of us ever were. In fact, they’ve made us look like we were a bit shit.
Shearer’s face expressed the same level of enthusiasm as an Easter Island statue that has just seen a wrecking ball coming towards it upon hearing the news that Harry Kane has now equalled his England goal scoring record at major tournaments. Lineker was fighting back tears, knowing that it is only a matter of time before Kane topples him from the top spot. Ferdinand managed to grudgingly growl something about their defence not being too bad these days and Lampard seemed to have been rendered mute by Jadon Sancho’s impressive performance in midfield.
Gone are the glory days of Euro 2016 when England suffered the wonderful humiliation of getting knocked out by Iceland in the last 16, making Lineker and Co. look like footballing gods by comparison. The creeping realisation across the panel that the current England team could go all the way and even win the whole thing risks putting their egos permanently on the bench.
A source close to the BBC has hinted that Lineker is already considering stepping down to dedicate more time to eating crisps for money. Lampard, having done so well as Chelsea Manager, may accept a role coaching the under-4s at his daughter’s nursery school, while Ferdinand has implied that he might take a break from football punditry so he can finally focus on rearranging his sock drawer. Shearer, on the other hand, remains stony-faced about his future at the BBC.