England are in the Euro 2024 final and we should revel in a love that transcends football

Fans at Wembley Boxpark celebrate England's semi-final victory

Fans at Wembley Boxpark celebrate England’s semi-final victory (Shutterstock)

After presiding over England’s historic run to a second consecutive Euros final, Gareth Southgate’s thoughts were on love. ‘We all want to be loved, right?’ he said.

Football – all sport really – is about love. The Ollie Watkins winner can be just as intense if experienced alone, but that’s because as it flies in and you celebrate, your mind is connecting you to him, to the England team, to everyone you know who’ll care about this, to wider society.

You’re part of a community when you watch England play. All humans need this: the mental connection to other people and the safety of the group.

Human society has only been as successful as it has been because we are able to empathise with others’ feelings, and to collaborate in shared stories. People seek this connection everywhere. Off the back of writing about loneliness here, I’ve heard from readers about five-a-side nights they’ve joined, non-league teams they started supporting, what korfball does for them and even the psychological benefits of chess clubs.

Based on how uncomfortable my male friends still are to say they love each other, I suspect the England team might not call it ‘love’.

But Southgate has shown his players that each man in this interconnected whole can be secure here, even if he is not the first name on the team sheet. That they will be respected and supported and praised and cared for and seen. And that this positive regard is not conditional on results. What is that if it is not love?

And this love has given them the security to consistently reach heights at major tournaments, and to zip confidently up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Hopefully to reach what Maslow considers the pinnacle of human growth at Sunday’s final, called – appropriately in this context – ‘transcendence’.

Gareth Southgate shows John Stones and Jordan Pickford some love after reaching the final (Picture: Getty)

Outside of the team the love has been less easy to find. And that’s fine, we can all choose how we want to react to some of the early stage drudgery. You can deny that Southgate has had any influence at all on taking this group to another final – as if we’ve never had good players at our disposal before.

You can even tell me that Harry Kane is past it, or that the Netherlands are pygmies in football terms. But the time for all that is over now. Despite what this era of English football would have you believe, seeing your national team in a major final is a rare gift. Which means we can take it for what it is – bonus joy!

We didn’t train for this, we made no sacrifices, we will experience no professional downsides win or lose. So why not get excited, be giddy, share the love.

Love is the game, as Adele didn’t quite sing. But she was there on Wednesday and she’d definitely agree. Sport …read more

Source:: Metro


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