Kolkata: It was 30th July 1966 when England considered the home of football, won the World Cup for the first time in it’s history and that night at Wembley became the greatest night in English football. 50 years since then and all England could achieve was pain and agony, with the 1990 fourth place finish their biggest achievement in the FIFA tournaments. But all despair was put to rest when the ‘Three Lions’ returned to a city they once ruled, the pinnacle of Indian football and Kolkata once a British Capital (1772-1911), did not disappoint.
It’s been over a century since the once colonial superpowers last left India but when India was picked to host the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup, England had to return and as luck would have it Kolkata was chosen to host the group stage matches of the English national team. It did not take long for the ‘White Army’ to connect with the football frenzy fans of the ‘City of Joy’. Their love connection reached it’s peak in the 5-2 win, that saw England make a remarkable comeback, despite going behind by two goals, a story similar to that night in Wembley. England lifted the U-17 World Cup, their first as the 66, 684 fans cheered in unison celebrating with the English and Kolkata once a political hub of the British, returned it’s favour.
Disappointment and grey clouds had loomed large over the country which despite claiming to possess one of the toughest leagues in the world, failed to win anything substantial in the international circuit. The English Premier League (EPL) is compared to none when it comes competitiveness and tough battles week in and week out, however have failed to dominate.
But suddenly England have two back to back World Cups in 2017 (U-20 and U-17). Although it looks to be a miracle for a country that has failed to inspire with it’s performance in recent times, it is not.
“I dedicate the win to the good work done by the academies and the Football Association (FA). These players were in the system for 4 to 5 years. It’s been (quite) a journey. It’s a recognition of English football. This shows we can go beyond after winning the U20 and U17 World Cup. We played like the way we wanted to play,” said Cooper hoping that it is the start of a new beginning of English football.
Although too early, this present English team is walking the road that World Champion Germany and Belgium once traded in. ‘Start from the grass-root level’ and the result – Germany for the last few years has been ruling world football and Belgium has a world class team.
“We have a plan. We have been at St George’s Park for five years and all the national coaches are very close, we work in a similar way. The teams are expected to play in a certain way and if it is a good one the more you practise it the better you become at it,” said the gaffer.
The tree has been planted and the fruits are awaiting, but nonetheless the tides have turned towards English kingdom and Kolkata is one of it’s first stops just like it was once for the East India trading Company. 28th October 2017 will always be a date embedded in the memories of English football.