Supporting Croatia? It’s just like supporting England

by Mystical Mike

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

Saturday 21st June

I’m writing this article sat, post shower, in the room of our hotel by Vienna Airport. I still cannot comprehend how we’ve lost a game we dominated and scored in the final minute of. It does not make sense. It must be wrong, it is surely us in the semi final against Germany. Isn’t it?

Of course it’s not. It’s Turkey. An ugly long ball goal with the final kick of the game, the inevitable penalty shoot out loss, and they jubilantly march through the quarter-finals leaving us on the international scrapheap for another 2 years. How typical. How typically Croatian, how typically English?

I am put in mind of the Euro 96 semi-final between England and Germany. A game where England utterly dominated proceedings yet still went out via the penalty shoot out. I remember Gazza missing a tap in by about an inch, how did he not score? And didn’t someone score only to have the goal disallowed? A game that was in the bag, but for a margin of inches, was lost. A final that had been all but sewn up, slipped inexplicably away. A pain in my stomach, relentless in it’s manner, yet completely unbelievable and unexpected.

Turkish Delight

How could a team do so much, but still fall short at the final hurdle? Why do some teams always seem to have the luck, whilst others receive pats on the back for spectacular failures? Germany for instance, why, why, why did they get every 50/50 decision against Portugal, whilst Croatia manfully struggle to despatch a mediocre Turkish side and eventually lose to a horrifically lucky goal. Why do England always flatter to deceive, and more often than not seem to lose to the ‘freak goal’ or ‘freak result’ or goal that never was. Perhaps it’s in the stars. Some teams are just not supposed to cut it. Unfortunately for me, Croatia and England are two of them.

It all starts so positively. The hopes and expectations of a nation are raised by an excellent performance. The draw opens up before you, and you already see yourself in the final. Sound familiar? Tonight, the hopes and dreams of an expectant nation were lost, not by skill or virtue of a worthy opponent, but by the width of a bar, the second hand on a referee’s watch, and that almighty of football variants – luck. Honorary Croatians throughout the UK will have sat back at the end of the match, looked at the TV and thought – this feels familiar. They may even have said a choice phrase or two from our Croatian Language school.

Ultimately, the outcome is the same. We are out. A less deserving, more fortunate team is still in. The only difference I can see in this particular instance, though it gives me no comfort, is that our vanquishers on this occasion, have absolutely no chance of winning the tournament. Perhaps there’s still a slight difference between England and Croatia, however paper thin.

Andrija Tadic reports for UK Football Finder from the leading Croatian football website become a croatia fan.

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  • Darren

    Welcome to our world, a world where losing is the norm, a world where you won’t just lose, you will lose in style! You will lose big, very big, you and millions of your compatriots will share the pain, the false hope.

    You will feel euphoric, only to have it ripped from your heart in an instant, you will cry tears of hurt, pain and unjust.

    WC 1970
    2-0 up against the Germans, keeper gets injured, we lose 3-2

    WC 1982
    Keegan & Brooking injured before tournament

    WC 1986
    The hand of god

    WC 1990
    Lose on pens to Germany

    Fail to qualify for WC 1994,
    Ronald Koeman who should of been sent off scores the winning goal.

    Euro 1996,
    lose to Germany on pens (again) after out playing them

    WC 1998
    Lose to pens to Argentina, having last minute goal disallowed

    Euro 2000
    2-0 up against Portugal in first group game, lose 3-2. 1 minute away from Qf, we give away a penalty, out we go.

    WC 2002
    Lose to Brazil to a freak goal, leading 1-0.

    Euro 2004
    Lose to Portugal on Pens, having last minute goal disallowed)

    WC 2006
    Rooney gets injured. Lose to Portugal on Pens (Again)

    Euro 2008
    1-0 up in Russia, lose 2-1, 0-2 at home to Croatia, come back to 2-2 (we are through) lose 3-2.

    There you go my friend, you have a long way to go to feel our pain.

  • Danny Brothers

    We do always seem to have a reason for us going out of a competition far beyond the fact that we’re not good enough. It’s always penalties, a late goal, a deflection, a bump in the ground decieving our keeper, anything.

    Time and again we’ve said “what if” but the simple question is, “what if we were a better team?”

    We shouldn’t kid ourselves any more…along with the bad luck, we’re simply not that great!

  • dexylongshot

    So many games mentioned above and all true. We hardly ever just go out fair and square or do we really,
    are we just looking through rose tinted St George flag shaped glasses.

    In 86, I was still young enough to cry. In 06 I managed it again although was fuelled by German lager in the very place where Rooney got sent off. What could have been. Dirty Diego & Dirty Winker cost us then.

    What about Dirty Simeone in 98, getting Goldenballs sent off. We probably improved in the 2nd half but yep, dodgy corner decisions robbed us of another victory against the Argies then but then again, 2002 – Owen diving in the box, Becks getting his own back, everyone forgets that! It’s all swing and roundabouts!!!

    I won’t mention 92 because we were crud and not much better in 88, but either side, in between and after that, untold examples.

    1990, a Paul Parker own goal from Brehmes free kick, with Shilton doing an excellent backwards falling into goal that inspired Seaman for our 2002 exit courtesy of Brazilian buck tooth Ronny. They hurt bad. Lineker got us back in it and waddle hit the post in extra time, as did Anderton in extra time against the same opponents 16 years later. But then again, luck does run on both sides. Would we have been in the semis for both if we hadn’t got the 2 late pens against Cameroon and the Spain shoot-out win (our only win ever on pens) after being out-played in the 96 quarters.

    You are dead right Dan….we’re simply not that great!

  • Darren

    what about Spain in Euro 96, they had 2 perfect goals disallowed, no one remembers that! Venables was and is one of the most over rated England managers of recent times.

    Bring back Hoddle, he was the last England manager who played with a system and the players slotted into his system, not the other way round which the last 3 have done, I include Capello into that

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