A couple of weeks ago here on the blog I was talking about the European Championships and about a conference Luke and I were about to attend in Paris. Well, since writing that post there has been good news and bad news. Let’s start with the good news…
The good news is that Luke and I went to Paris and won an award for our presentation. We are both very honoured to have been able to speak at the conference, and even happier and surprised to have won a prize. If you’d like to see us in action, you can do so here. The picture at the top of this post shows us receiving our award from Professor David Crystal, a very popular writer on the English Language and a fascinating man. It was a really interesting conference and we had a great weekend in Paris.
The bad news is that for England fans the European Championships are over for their team. We lost on Sunday night to Italy in a penalty shoot-out. Let me say first of all that the English can have no problem losing to Italy at all, who were by far the better team and really deserved to win. In fact, if England had won the penalty shoot-out, it would have been a real injustice. They were totally outplayed by the Italians and will need to do a lot of work if they are ever going to reach the final of a major tournament again.
The sad truth is, England have a terrible record in major tournaments and penalty shoot-outs in particular. Last night I counted how many penalty shoot-outs the national side had been involved in in my lifetime – in other words, since 1976. The answer is seven, the first being against West Germany in the 1990 World Cup. In that time we have lost to Argentina, Italy, West Germany, Germany and Portugal (twice). We’ve only one once and that against Spain in the European Championships in 1996. We then lost the very next game against Germany on penalties, so nobody really remembers the Spanish game. We should probably be thankful that the number isn’t higher, but then we didn’t even qualify for 1994 World Cup or the 2008 European Championships. So, in the ten tournaments that the England team has taken part in in the last 22 years, they have been knocked out in a penalty shoot-out in no less that 60% of them. In short, they have a terrible record. No wonder many England fans think that their team is cursed!
So now four countries remain in the tournament: Spain and Portugal, who play on Wednesday for a place in the final; and Germany and Italy, who kick-off their semi-final on Thursday evening. If I had to pick a winner, it’d have to be the red-hot favourites Spain, though the German team is a dark horse and could win the whole thing.
Good luck to whichever team you are supporting. I won’t be watching now that my team is out. Instead I’ll be watching another sporting event in the hope of a British win as Wimbledon starts today. I’m not holding my breath though!
Thanks for reading.
to see sth/sby in action - (idiom) to watch sby do something or to watch sth happen
fascinating – (adj.) very interesting
penalty shoot-out – (adj.+n.) used at the end of a football match to decide a winner, where each team gets five attempts to score from the penalty spot
by far – (adv.) much to show emphasis
injustice – (n.) an unfair act or result
to be cursed – (idiom.) if you are cursed, you always have bad luck
red-hot - (adj.) the best competitor, the clear favourite to win something
a dark horse – (idiom) a competitor who is very good but who not many people think will win
to not hold your breath – (idiom) here it means not to expect something to happen