Eurozone 2020: Gareth Southgate proving a middle-aged crush

Final tickets are ripe for touting; Gary Neville and Lineker have different views on the boos

Gareth Southgate has steered England into a first major tournament final since 1966. Photograph: Paul Ellis/Getty/AFP

Gareth Southgate has steered England into a first major tournament final since 1966. Photograph: Paul Ellis/Getty/AFP

 

Gareth Southgate a middle-aged crush

You couldn’t but feel a little sorry for Gareth Southgate when digital marketing agency North revealed the findings of its research in to which Euro 2020-related internet search queries had seen the biggest increases since the start of the tournament.

Top of the list, with a rise of 950 per cent, was: “Is Jack Grealish single?” Next, with an increase of 800 per cent, was: “Is Mason Mount single?” Most of the England squad’s relationship status was, in fact, a source of considerable interest, but one query saw a measly rise of just 120 per cent: “Is Gareth Southgate married?”

Happily, though, the gaffer was the subject of a very admiring Twitter thread where contributors speculated about just how lovely a man he is. A Penny Mullord, for example, suggested that “he’d hang the washing properly, making sure not to stretch the shoulders of your cardigan”, while comedian Madeleine Brettingham declared him to be “the ultimate middle-aged crush”.

“I just want him to drive me to a colonoscopy appointment then sit outside eating a scotch egg in dignified silence.” It’s an image that will never leave us.

Quote of the day

“If you are going to knight anybody you’ve got to knight everybody in the squad. It’s a team game. What about the rightback or the leftback who aren’t in the public eye as much as Harry Kane?” - If Kyle Walker and Luke Shaw aren’t Sirs after Euro 2020, Harry Redknapp’s going to be spittin’.

Number of the day

54,000 - That’s how many pounds a seller on the Ticombo website was charging for a ticket for Sunday’s final …. with a face value of £295. Cheap at the price.

Conspiracy Theory of the Week

The runner-up is the one offered by Spanish journalist Roberto Morales who described Euro 2020 as “the most shameful competition” because Uefa had ‘arranged’ for England to win it by allowing them play all but one of their games at home and then ensured they got a dodgy penalty to win their semi-final. Quite why Uefa would do this, he didn’t explain.

Italian paper Gazzetta Dello Sport knows the answer, though - it’s because Uefa want to reward Boris Johnson for taking a stand against the Super League.

“Roberto Mancini will have to take into account the political wind that is blowing. Johnson is the man who saved European football. A payback would be logical. We may be thinking bad thoughts, we may be sinners, but better that than being a fool.” Hmm.

Caught pulling a sickie

Fans are usually chuffed when the cameras pick them out during games and they get on the telly. Apart from digital content producer Nina Farooqi, that is.

“We were all over the news, my face was on every television screen across the world - I had friends from Australia and America telling me they’d seen me,” she told the Telegraph, herself and her pal having been shown wildly celebrating England’s equaliser against Denmark at Wembley. “The rational part of me thought, ‘oh no, is this going to come back to haunt me?’”

You can see what’s coming. Her boss spotted her and gave her the sack. Yep, Nina had pulled a sickie, her company already short-staffed. Any regrets? “I’d do it all over again,” she said. That’s the spirit.

Italy players sing their anthem ahead of the semi-final with Spain. Photograph: Matt Dunham/AP
Italy players sing their anthem ahead of the semi-final with Spain. Photograph: Matt Dunham/AP

Final ticket scam

How desperate are England fans to get their hands on tickets for Sunday’s final? You can imagine. And, predictably enough, there are quite a few unkind souls out there intent on making the most of that desperation.

A Twitter account by the name of ‘Wembley Scam Tickets’ (@WembleyTickets) has been set up to warn people about shady types selling non-existent tickets on the platform. Based on messages they’d received from duped buyers, on Thursday alone people had paid out £32,000 for “scam tickets” on Twitter.

“It will be a lot more,” they added, “but many are too embarrassed to say.” Cripes.

Verratti and Kuipers have history

How would Italy’s Marco Verratti have felt when he heard Bjorn Kuipers had been chosen to referee Sunday’s final? Probably not great, they have a little history.

Back in May, when Verratti’s Paris Saint-Germain met Manchester City in the Champions League semi-finals, Kuipers was in charge, PSG not best pleased by his decision to send off Angel Di Maria. A somewhat heated chat ensued between the ref and their players, during which, Verratti claimed, Kuipers “said to me f**k you - if we say that, we get banned for 10 matches”.

It will, then, be an emotional reunion.

A tail of two Garys

Gary Neville: “When our national anthem was booed I always took it as the opposition fans trying to unsettle us, drown our fans out and never as some kind of attack on us as people. Is it really that bad and disrespectful?”

Gary Lineker: “Please, please don’t boo the Italian anthem. A/ It’s an absolute belter and worth listening to. B/ It’s bloody rude, disrespectful and utterly classless.”

Take your pick.

Letting the Kingdom down

You might have seen the photo doing the rounds of the two lads in Kerry jerseys in the middle of the Italian crowd at last Tuesday’s semi-final against Spain. They turned up on Ray D’Arcy’s RTE radio show, their identity revealed as twins Seamus and Niall O’Connor from Brosna in north east Kerry.

A tweeter by the name of John O’Sullivan did, though, make a highly salient observation about the matter. “They let the whole county down - sure, what Kerryman ever went to a semi-final?” True.

The Prince of Wales

“Watching the football is rather too much for the nerves.” - Prince Charles revealing why he can’t watch England’s Euro 2020 games, so unless the Queen tells him, he won’t know on Sunday evening if football has come home.

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