Emily Drakeley laments how years of under-achievement have eroded belief in the England national team, among fans and players alike.
Shearer, Gascoigne, Gerrard, Lampard, Scholes, Owen. Once massive players, with huge amounts of passion.
As an England fan, I find it increasingly frustrating when I go to an England match. The players don’t perform and the manager seemingly is happy with a lacklustre performance, because it is always, in his eyes, a tough test.
We are England. We were once this powerful footballing nation with the whole country behind the national team, cheering it on.
I remember the first tournament I ever watched, the World Cup in 2006. I was a 9-year-old little girl and my Dad came home with a Rooney England shirt.
I never knew much about football then, but I could sense the excitement. My Dad let me stay up to watch one of the matches and we sat on the sofa with an England flag draped across our laps.
My parents always tell me about 1998: it was blisteringly hot and their patio doors were open. When England scored, the whole road roared in excitement and pride. Now, you are almost shamed for being an England fan. There is no excitement. There is no pride.
It is now almost like the England team is just something that is on the television, but no one seems to care, as it means that Coronation Street has been moved to a different day. It is now almost an annoyance. There is no national love around it anymore.
After 2006 and the failure to qualify for the Euros in 2008, England had one more chance, at the World Cup in 2010. The group stage was abysmal to a fan then, but what we would expect now.
The group stage almost set expectations for what an England fan has now, rather than those high desires that we would reach the quarter finals and beyond.
Granted, the Euros in 2012 improved. Goals scored, but goals conceded. The excitement came back a bit, but after that it vanished again. I used to be the biggest England fan going. After that competition, I have fallen out of love a little bit.
Where are the players that are driving our national team to do well? It is almost as though they are doing it just because they have to, not because they want to.
Pulling on an England shirt should be so important, one of the highest accolades in the sport. But it isn’t. It is effectively the same players over and over, under-performing.
We have qualified for the 2018 World Cup now, but we all expect a boring group stage and at best getting knocked out in the round of 16. England just isn’t England anymore.