British Grime M.C. Stormzy has taken the world by, for a lack of a better word, storm. The 24-year-old artist has captivated and fascinated listeners from all musical genres since he first jumped on the scene a few years ago.

From his freestyles in the park to his epic performance at the Brit Awards, Stormzy has shown no signs of evaporating away.

In honour of his recent victories at the Brits where he won both British male and album of the year, here is a look how the 6’5” M.C. combines both music and the sport we all know and love.

If it wasn’t for an Irish newspaper in July of last year, many would have never known that Stormzy fancied himself as the “Grime Scene’s Lukaku.” However, in The Herald’s front page announcing Romelu Lukaku’s transfer to Manchester United, the paper mistakenly placed a picture of the musician on the paper instead of the Belgian striker.

If you were a fan of the grime artist well before the incident, you would have known that he once gave a shout out to his doppelganger in his song “Wicked Skengman Part 4.”

“I’m the grime scene’s Lukaku,

6’5” black guy, mad fly, put me up top,

Man down, everybody down when I buss shots,

Jump onstage, bare rage when my dub drop.”

The Herald’s mistake went down as one of the best jokes of the year, but this was not the first time Stormzy had a run in with a Manchester United player.

A year before the arrival of Lukaku, Stormzy was taking off in England and Manchester United was signing former academy prodigy Paul Pogba.

In order to hype up the fanbase even more than the signing of Pogba, United elected to use Stormzy in their announcement video.

Without a doubt this video is fantastic, and it goes to show how big of a Manchester United fan Stormzy is.

Well before he was appearing in United videos and praising the club, Stormzy was actually throwing shade at the Premier League giants. Following the Red Devil’s decision to sack David Moyes after a disappointing year in the 2013/14 season, Stormzy did not hold back in showing his displeasure. In his track “Know Me From,” Stormzy does just that, he says:

“Look I don’t rate them boys,

Bare wasteman, bare pagan boys,

I come to your team and **** **** up,

I’m David Moyes.”

Stormzy and Manchester United’s relationship runs deep, and it would be fantastic to see the two collaborate yet again in the future. Although I am far from a United fan, I have to give a round of applause to the club for making such a smart and cunning PR move.


100 KLUB

Unorthodox: contrary to what is usual, traditional, or accepted; not orthodox. Or, in other words: Thomas Müller.

Müller is somewhat of an enigma. He’s forgotten but he’s there.

You scroll down your football dedicated feed to feast on hours of footage ft. Messi being Messi, Neymar strolling through various French parks completely testing his footballing ability in the world’s most competitive division, Ronaldo nailing spot kicks on the bounce & Lukaku’s wonderful first touch. You never see Thomas. You ask anybody though, and they’ll say Müller is World Class. (Okay, you do see Thomas, but he’s either pretending his passport is a mobile phone or he’s mimicking a kicking horse.)

Müller even escapes selection for dream XI’s both by fans & Pro’s alike. Not mine. He’s first pick. Ice cool. A true fox in the box. A kindred spirit to one Ruud Van Nistelrooy. But why is he so great. How? The man literally looks like an Ostrich both in stature & technique.

Müller just fucking scores goals. He’s just hit 100 in the Bundesliga. Watch the compilation on Youtube. Virtually 100 identical goals. Bundling all 100 over the line from within 12 yards. Rebounds, follow-ups, low crosses, deflected shots, penalties. An absolute weapon in and around the area.

So what? They’re all tap-ins?

No. Look beyond that. For a start, they all count. 100 goals in arguably Europe’s second best league speaks for itself, really. But actually what you have is a real gem. A man who plays the same beautiful game only a few are capable of. An intelligent, one step ahead, crafty bastard. Completely & utterly unorthodox.

MUNICH, GERMANY – APRIL 23: Thomas Mueller of Bayern Muenchen scores the opening goal during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final First Leg match between FC Bayern Muenchen and Barcelona at Allianz Arena on April 23, 2013 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Bongarts/Getty Images)

His aurora is that of a grinning Ronnie, a mellow Pirlo, a calculated Zizou or a clinical Denny Bergkamp. One of those greats that don’t simply exist in football but well & truly create or shape a role to call their own way beyond their shelf life.

The man literally took the World Cup by storm in 2010. A young, fresh-faced 20-year-old with low slung socks & knobbly knees. (Those who love Müller as much as I will know he was around a little before this – surprisingly Van Gaal the man to thank). Classic German name. Nobody had a fucking clue who this geezer was. Won the golden boot though. Then went on to become a household name amongst Europe’s elite. Still is.

Germany’s Thomas Muller celebrates scoring his sides fourth goal with Mesut Ozil (right)

A forgotten Totti – Müller has devoted all of 18 years to Bayern (He’s only 28). A real loyal guy. Plus he seems to like a pint – plenty of pictures doing the rounds of Müller donning lederhosen, chugging down steins of high-grade wheat beer.

Look further beyond – see Müller as the person. Always grinning. A real ambassador for the sport. A proper role model. He’s the reason your dad goes to the German Christmas Markets every year. “Will that Müller bloke be there?”

Even further beyond & see Muller the style icon. Old school low socks, short shorts, no-nonsense German working class haircut. The poster boy for any German World Cup campaign. BE LIKE THOMAS MÜLLER.

So, here’s to you, Thomas. Congrats on the century. Raise a stein to 100 more, you crafty, wonderful, unorthodox goal getter.


The school playground was a cruel environment where an ethos of survival of the fittest reigned – if you didn’t want to take part, then look the other way. Before we knew about the words capitalism or economics, we practiced their principles. Our currency wasn’t on the FOREX though, it was little bits of paper, much like other currencies, that weren’t tied to a nation-state, but given value that, to those on the outside could seem arbitrary. To those trading them, the value was directly tied to current events as well as prestige and exclusivity.

Panini stickers ruled the playground for years. Piles of dog-eared footballers would make the trip to school with us every day, held together by desperate elastic bands that were turning white at their most overstretched points. Once the book was filled, if we even bothered, we could show off and swap what we had. Phrases that were perfectly suitable, but nonetheless primitive jargon, entered our lexicon. Doublers and shinies, or stickers you had two or more off and ones that shone, were the making of a young person’s position in the school’s pecking order.

Since their inauguration in 1978, the Panini sticker album has been a phenomenon that transcends generational trends. Popular mainly among young boys, due to both their more widespread infatuation with football and proclivity to collect things – the stickers became an institution, a rite-of-passage that was eclipsed only by playing football itself.

Modena – the home of vinegar, Ferrari, Lamborghini, opera singer Pavarotti and Panini stickers. It all began at a newspaper kiosk run by brothers Benito and Giuseppe. Although they didn’t begin with football stickers, they were immediately successful. The debut year of business, 1961, saw 15 million packets of stickers sell. The North of Italy has always been the industrial capital and this ease-of-access to space and machinery helped their operation expand considerably. The following year the duo’s two other brothers, Franco and Umberto, joined their new family – that’s when it began to take off. A few years later they had the idea to move into football stickers. They didn’t look back.

If you venture up into your grandparent’s loft, they’re bound to have a dusty box with one of these early albums from your dad or uncle, stored somewhere between old match-day programme’s and a box of Subbuteo. They are part of football’s Holy Trinity of Cult Collectibles, and importantly, beyond the object itself, they carry nostalgia-inducing stories that are both personal to you, but with universal elements – the folk-tales of childhood, well worthy of future sociological study.

As would be expected, there are enthusiasts, and with that, the acknowledgement of particular years in the collection’s history.  In particular 1983, the first year that players were photographed in full kits. Considering the re-emergence of the retro sportswear fetish, the opportunity to admire whole kits from back when ‘shorts were short’, made this a vintage year for Panini. Remarkably though, thanks to a couple of player’s mischief, it was also the last year of the experimental format. Swansea City’s attackers Bob Latchford and Alan Curtis posed for the pictures in socks and slippers respectively. Fans were happy. The board wasn’t.

Such idiosyncrasies are what people yearn for now. As our contemporary embodiment of Panini stickers is the FIFA Ultimate Team pack, their contemporary uniformity can’t even touch our pre-tech excitement. The computer game franchise cleverly use a heart-stopping reveal sequence when showing the players you’ve got and videos online show the excitement (or rage) when people get the players they want (or don’t), but I would offer my opinion that nothing was more exciting than saving up your pocket money to buy as many packs as you could, before tearing them open on your bedroom floor. The trick was to be careful enough not to rip any cards whilst repeating the ones you wanted to get – a list of which existed in your head at all times.

Got it, got it, got it, need that one. It sounded out like a mantra spoken aloud by young footballing shamans when flicking through your mate’s stack, exercising the laws of supply and demand in the playground market. You’d announce when you were getting some more packs after school that day only to return the following day like a celebrity, with friends asking what ones you ended up getting to see if you could help them – not that they had to ask, you knew who they needed too. Some stickers tended to be popular while others were a little rarer, driving up their value.







If you believe that Panini evenly produced and distributed each sticker, then it’s fair to say that geographical differences were the deciding factor in certain cards scarcity. Growing up in Glasgow would make it a lot easier to find Hibs and Hearts players to trade – any Celtic or Rangers doubler would be used as decoration for schoolbooks and beyond. Some of these mysteriously near non-existent stickers had a gloriously ephemeral quality – the footballing shiny Charizard. If my memory serves me it was Gazza at Rangers, Henrik Larsson at Celtic and the shiny version of all of the club’s crests – they were peelable gold, a truly invaluable hand of cards.

Without the internet, this was the way we got to know squads and statistics, most of which we could name off by heart fairly early on into the season. Any stadium’s capacity or club’s year of formation was tattooed onto our brains – it was the gateway drug to a lifetime of footballing addiction. It isn’t fair to bash everything that came before now. Everyone’s childhood is a treasure-trove of memories. Endless days and nights kicking a ball around the park, the legendary free-kick you scored or the time you took it past four of your mates before chipping the keeper in the unforgiving rain. We all have our own memories like these, but that’s the beauty in Panini stickers, they’re a memory that we all have in common – and one that we always will.


By Edd Norval.



Like it or not, Major League Soccer has made huge strides both on and off the pitch in terms of the sport’s prowess in the United States.

On the field, the league has shifted away from an old-man policy and began resorting to a younger Designated Player approach. No longer do we see the David Beckhams and the Andrea Pirlos of the world joining the league, instead, we see a plethora of young talented South Americans making lasting impressions.

Off the field, we see the league showing off its culture and progressiveness. From its respect for the LGBTQ community to its passion for race and gender equality, the league appears to be climbing the moral high ground. (For now, let’s ignore other headlining factors that demote the league, i.e. Tyler Deric, Cyle Larin, and baseball pitches).

One aspect that the league has shown enormous growth in is music culture. Just announced last week, the Houston Dynamo is set to have American rapper Wale perform at their season’s home opener. In addition, U.S. Soccer’s National Hall of Fame has also announced that the infamous rock band Imagine Dragons will perform during their induction weekend.

Not before this year did we see so many talented and famous musicians taking interest in the league, but there is one good source for where and when being a musician and supporting the MLS became cool: the unveiling of one of MLS’ newest franchises, Atlanta United FC.

The day Atlanta United FC was revealed to the world, Atlanta’s biggest and brightest stars put on the team’s jerseys, two of which were Ludacris and 2 Chainz.

Not only did some of the country’s most beloved southern hip-hop artists sign on to support their hometown club, an immense amount of their fans joined along with them.

As a Dallas native and a current St. Louis resident, I had no desire to root for a team miles away from me but I would be lying if I did not say I envied Atlanta’s approach. In a way, the club’s ambition and desire to embrace pop media culture made me fall in love with it.

I’ve only been to Atlanta once in my life but after seeing how this club and these rappers made soccer somewhat cool in American was awesome.

And I think Atlanta United and MLS understand that.

When revealing their newest kit for the season, Atlanta United once again called upon the services of 2 Chainz to help their campaign. In their video, you can see the don dawn the club’s new jersey.

As for MLS, they called upon 2 Chainz to help narrate their ‘MLS is Back’ campaign.

All in all, the idea of music and MLS never placed itself in my head but now with the arrival of these entertaining artists, I can’t keep the two apart.


There is no doubt that Nigeria will be rocking one of the best jerseys in the upcoming 2018 World Cup in Russia. The eclectic and tasteful design is both representative of the country’s culture and jaw-dropping to any lucky on-looker.

The slick green and white kit with vertical arrows ushers back a retro vibe all while remaining glossy, dazzling, and modern. The design strikes a resounding resemblance with the country’s 1996 Olympic kit (where they won Gold), which was later reported to be a source of inspiration.

In addition to all of the hype, there is one interesting fact about the kit launch that combines the worlds of music and football: the Creative Director of the project was Grace Ledoja, who is the current manager of British Grime MC Skepta. But, before Ledoja was receiving her MBE from the Queen or dropping brilliant jerseys in February alongside Nigerian singer Wizkid, her client Skepta was representing his homeland on the stage in December of 2017.

Right before the end-of-the-year holidays, Skepta was pictured in Lagos at a concert dawning a throwback Nigerian jersey, black A-COLD-WALL Joggers, and a pair of OFF-White x Nike Vapor Max sneakers.

The style appeared comfortable and sleek all while repping Nigeria. Although Skepta was born in the UK, the London native is still able to support his heritage through fashion and lyrics.

In his hit single “Hyporcrisy,” Skepta gives a shout out to his home saying:

“I’m a Nigerian eagle,
In London smoking illegal”

The combined lyric may not be the MC’s greatest word cluster but it helps offer home pride…all while having a little fun.


Last summer I went to Medellin for a week since I had just bought a new camera and absolutely loved Narcos.

The fact that my girlfriend cheated on me, allowing my mental health to reach its absolute abyss and me wanting to ”find myself” on a 2-month drug-laden trip in South America had absolutely nothing to do with it.

Medellin is called ”The City of Eternal Spring” and that slogan alone should make you want to pack your bags. You lot can have summer, I’m all for spring. And Medellin embodies spring. Spring is about anticipation. Excitement. Resurrection. Wearing your freshly bought spring trainers for the first time. It’s about showing off your new Adidas Gazelles to the cute barista (whose freckles are starting to show) at the local Starbucks. Getting rejected.

Not that you give two fucks. It’s spring. You’re immortal!

Medellin is struggling to fight off its reputation of being a dangerous city, but it’s certainly not struggling to show the opposite – if you actually go there. The city is located in a valley with steep hills and mountains surrounding the city centre, making it really hard for the poor population who live in the mountain barrios to access the city centre. This caused the city to invest in a ”Metrocable” (a shit load of gondolas connected to the metro system) that’s running up and down the hillsides for tourists to easily access the diverse and lush barrios, and most importantly, connecting all Medellin inhabitants.

Football is everywhere in the city. It’s painted on the walls and played in the streets. Its shouted from the bars. So obviously I had to attend a football game since the city hosts two major teams; Atlético Nacional and Independiente Medellin. They both share this magnificent 41 000 seated stadium that just oozes South America. The round shaped stands, the cracked cement, scary ass policemen that possibly have been instructed to beat the shit out of you, stray dogs (I always wondered why dogs are such a common type of pitch invader in South America. Turns out the stadiums are their home), 1,50 dollar beers and ultras staring at you with olive-sized pupils and gurning jaws.

Independiente Medellin, the footballing underdog in comparison to the bigger brother Atlético, played against Deportivo Cali in the quarter-finals of the Colombian Primera A when I was in town. Right up my alley. I never knew what it is like to support a winning team anyway. Then I heard that Pablo Escobar was buried with an I.M. flag wrapped around his torso, and it was settled. This was my South American team!

I hopped on the surprisingly modern and clean metro (it makes the metro of my hometown Stockholm look like absolute shit) down to the Atanasio Girardot Stadium to enjoy some Colombian football madness. I purchased a bootleg match jersey, some pork arepas and a well chilled Aguila (fuck right off Carlsberg, Aguila is the best beer in the world) from a street salesman. He insisted on me buying the jersey since ”the fans will fucking kill you, amigo” if I didn’t wear the home team colours. I took his advice, kindly rejected the cocaine he insisted on me buying since, again, ”the fans will fucking kill you, amigo” and entered the stadium.













The game ended 3-1 to my beloved new team. Unfortunately, Cali had won 4-1 at their place for the first leg of the quarter-finals, so I.M. got knocked out. I still enjoyed the game though. I tricked a steward into thinking I was a photographer by saying ”Soy un fotografero” and waving my camera in his face and got full access to the absolute madhouse of a stadium it was.

Medellin. I miss you more than my ex. Stay you.


A love letter to the dinked finish. My favourite.

It’s well satisfying to watch a goalkeeper look completely humiliated. Hundreds of
ways to do it – all displayed in textbook style by Il Fenomeno during a 10 minute
YouTube compilation to the soundtrack of a Russian dance banger. If given one last opportunity to see some top class Keeper shaming, I’d make a beeline for the Chip. Cheeky, arrogant & outright humiliating for the Keeps. All forms of the finish –fucking great. I get giddy just thinking about a clipped finish. My mates know me well. Over a few pints, game on, we see a dinked finish – “one for you that, lad”. I grin. I fucking love it. I’m not fussy either. Any style of chip. Hit from distance, ball well above the Keeps’ head, backpedalling. Striker wheeling off – Sheareresque with a single limb in the air before the ball even arrives home. Keeper, jaw to the floor, complete disbelief. Keeper falls into the netting. Bliss.

Latching onto a through ball. Keeper flying out. Slight angle. Keeps goes to
ground to steal the ball. No. Striker clips it. Up & over. Lands right into the bottom
corner. (Bounce before net entry optional). Keeper rolls onto his back in
embarrassment. Hasn’t even checked to see if it’s a goal. The sound of the crowd tells
him all he needs to know.

Here’s my favourite. The chance can arrive from a mazy run or a beauty of a through ball. Striker bearing down on goal. Ball glued to feet. A Western showdown. Keeper, determined not be embarrassed, holds firm. Fills the space. Broad shoulders. Takes a knee to make a block. Striker lofts the ball. This time not over the head, but over the shoulder. Keeper literally watches the ball past his face & into the net. Add defenders into the mix. Even better when the defender thinks he can get there but is always a yard too slow. I love goalkeepers. Totally underrated tradesmen, they are. A boss save is just as satisfying as a 30-yard screamer. Not a chip though. Nothing against Neuer & the boys – but in this instance, your pain is the world’s pleasure, & I have a front-row seat.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS: On the bounce, rooted keeper, defenders lobbed on
the line, off the woodwork & lobs that don’t actually come down until they roll down
the netting.

Favourite 5

I could’ve done a favourite 100.

Pires v Southampton

Proper lob. Classic FIFA 2002 when the cross button was actually called “Lob”.
Side foot, a bit of whip, classic backpedalling. Completes the hattrick. Typically
French celebration.

Lampard v Barcelona

Oh, Frankie Boy. Our very own. Our Frankie. Tight angle. Massive game. CROSS
IT TO DROGBA. The voice of ‘Arry Redknapp in Frank’s ear – “Go on, son. Have
a go. He’s off his line. Go where Niko & Crouchie have never gone before”. Lamps
chip it from virtually the byline & into the far side netting. Lovely stuff.

Messi v Bayern

Model chip. Just watch it. Embarrassed defenders, a classic Western showdown with Neuer. Over the shoulder. Lands flush in the bottom corner. I will say no more.

Totti v Inter

The master of chips, Totti is. It’s a non-argument. He has an 8-minute compilation
of the stuff. Christmas day every time I watch it. This one just epitomises how
easy he found the trade. Jogs through the middle. Looks up. Feints to lash it. Clips
it from 20 plus yards. The keeper dives backwards – still, acres from the ball – & in it
goes. Grazie.

Bergkamp V Leverkeusen

He even slips & still pulls off an ice cool lob. Doesn’t even celebrate. TOTAAL

The chip is a delightful aspect of the game and, when utilised correctly, can dazzle every fan watching.


eBay is bloody brilliant and for fans of the game like us, delving into the wonders on the site gives us a shit tonne of excitement in our lives. Why? Because of the vast amount of random collectable stuff that no-one needs but everyone wants.

Hats. They’re a weird and wonderful fashion accessory. Some look cool on people. Some don’t; take Mario Balotelli’s mad glove hat thingy for example. If worn in the right way, with a decent outfit, hats can make or break a person’s look. However, we’re not here to give fashion tips to you guys but to showcase something boss from eBay.

A double episode (you lucky bastards) this week, bringing you two styles of hat allowing you to choose depending on what you prefer. Here we have two hats, both Japan/Korea 2002 World Cup specials but one is a bucket hat and one is a cap. Two fucking good hats with two different styles.

First, the bucket hat is a Coca-Cola merchandise piece in collaboration with the 2002 World Cup. A definite must if you enjoy rockin’ bucket hats or if you just like to collect shite like I do. A delightful red base with the two logos on and a big ‘2002’ down the side. Black rim. Wonderful.






Second, the cap. A tan number with a simple design. Logo spanked right in the centre on the front, showing people exactly what you love which is football. ‘World Cup’ on the back. Why wouldn’t you pay the international shipping? You’re very lucky living in the US with this one, free shipping?! Aye, please.





Buy em here: Cap. Bucket.


Whether it is fashion, video games, or the actual game itself, football surrounds us daily. It is a part of our culture, our livelihood and we it for love that. But, there is one amazing way that the sport is able to infuse itself into to us. It is not by seeing, but by hearing.

Everyone can name their favourite songs from FIFA, their most beloved match day chant, or one of Shakira’s typical World Cup anthems. On the front, these songs speak the game but very few of them actually mention the sport in their lyrics.

In this series, we here at The Culture Division will highlight those lyrics that mention the beloved game.

Up first is East Ham, London native Grime artist Kano with his song titled, “T-Shirt Weather In the Manor.”

The lyric in question is uttered in verse one, he states:

 “Forward some summers, I’m racing the latest Merc out, it worked out, ‘Cept Everton’s not top, but we don’t talk about it”

In a heartfelt song that discusses family and friendship, Kano whips out a lyric poking fun at English Premier League side Everton.

It has been a rough decade for the Toffees as they have been lowly regarded as the second-best team in Liverpool – obviously behind the Reds. Everton has yet to make a Champions League appearance since their 2005-06 campaign that featured the likes of Mikel Arteta, Phil Neville, and Tim Cahill.

Kano has claimed in the past that he is a West Ham fan and that he is never been shy for a bit of friendly banter, especially with his family.

*All photos were taken by Jamie Drew*


The man to define my near quarter century as an England fan.

We’ve been here plenty of times before. Get them on the plane. Andy Carroll, Peter Crouch, David Nugent, Darius Vassell. They’ll offer something different. Bring them on with the half hour to go. “This’ll baffle ‘em lads – Emile, get warmed up!”.

It’s caused some huge debate over the years with Three Lion’s fanatics down the local boozer – who should fill that fourth striker position for the Summer of Hope. “FRANNY JEFFERS” was probably the worst shout – although he does have a 100% goals to game ratio in the England White.

Disappointment is something we’re all used to as England fans post ’66. However, I’ll always remember the first time I was well & truly disappointed. It was the summer of Darius. Five foot Seven Darius & half of the Midlands behind him.

France 98 (belter) & Japan/Korea 02 (also belter) were my earliest encounters of International football. (No idea where I was for the Millennium Euros – but that France team was glorious). Both disappointing as per the usual England protocol but for ’98 I was four & literally couldn’t comprehend anything I was seeing beyond Marcel Desailly’s absolute chill in those Predators & the glorious FujiFilm advertising boards. As for 2002 I was busy getting away with an R9 trademark semi-circle fringe at school & not actually being a) sent home & b) embarrassed. To be honest you could not be disheartened after losing to that Brazil squad. Don’t worry David, I wouldn’t have saved that either.

So up to press, I had been fairly content with England’s showings on the international stage.

The Euro’s. The Golden Generation. A perfect chance to prove we can obliterate Europe & take on those pesky South American’s in Germany in a couple of years. Untypically optimistic as I had not faced the heartbreak of my senior England supporters. Also, in-form Villa Marksman Darius has made the exclusive strikers club! Wayne, Emile & Michael with open arms – “big up Vass, welcome to the goal show”.

I’ve had many debates with the same Man Blue fan for years about Darius. I’m not sold. He is. He loves him. He shows me the same grainy footage on YouTube every time we have this drunken debate of Vassell illegally obstructing the ball between his feet before doing a backwards roll away from confused Fulham defenders. Granted, if I had seen Robbie Fowler do that I would be in awe. But not Darius.

We get through the group stages relatively easily. Plus, we treated the neutrals to a fucking glorious first fixture against France. Not so glorious for Beckham & co (Becks now sporting a classic number 1 that Ross Kemp would give a reassuring nod to – even in the most hostile of gang territories) as we went down cruelly to a Zidane fest in the closing of the game – but nonetheless a cracking tie. That’s the thing with our lot. We put a show on for other countries. Such a selfless nation we are. A golden generation of players, unselfishly choosing to notturn up to big tournaments. Give Spain & Italy a chance – those lads are having a dry spell.

What happened next was about to set me up for every single international fixture I would ever watch in my England Whites. Cue Barry who works down the Red Lion ranting in the pisser:

Portugal. Fucking Portugal. Sandwiched between Portugal victories in 2000 & 2006. Our very own Bolton to Arsene Wenger. Bottom 3 sides to Liverpool. Legitimate goals to Pele. A thorn in our side.

For starters, Sol Campbell (who 100% had his fair share of emotional disappointment during his career) climbed well above everybody to legally head the ball into the well tight, fucking mega green/black netting *note – the nets were pleasing, but how beautiful was that ball* only for it to be cruelly disallowed. Still not over that.

That was disappointment number one. Still not onto Darius.

Then obviously Portugal took a 2 – 1 lead with 10 minutes of extra time to play – albeit that goal from Cult hero Rui Costa was some effort. A quick turnaround though. England gets our hopes up again – we will not be beaten! Frankie Lampard swivels in the box from a peak John Terry knockdown to get us right back into the game. Surely there will be no more upset. We’ve even put Darius on for the pennos because he’s ice cold from 12 yards. Our wildcard. Our saviour. The Midlands Marksman.

Wrong. Penalties. Beckham. Well over. Blames spot. Back to reality. But again our hopes are raised as the shootout levels itself. One pen each before sudden death. Ricardo’s gone rogue. Gloveless. No man’s land for Darius’ soon to be a goal-bound penalty. Oh, Darius. Saved. Could happen to anybody. Still, you’re my scapegoat for this tournament exit. Ricardo then remains gloveless to smash the winning penalty beyond a helpless Jammo.

Darius was plan B. England’s fourth striker. The one we all secretly hope turns up & unpredictably lights up the tournament. In reality, this is never going to happen. But this tournament & Darius Vassell ultimately showed me the “England fan ropes” in which we look for a reason we can achieve before realising when it all goes horribly wrong that this reason was actually a load of bollocks – See Harry Kane, England’s new corner taker/Steve McClaren, we WILL qualify.

Now it was far from Darius’ fault we left the Euros. But he will forever in my mind be the reason England are shit. He is the reason we only put three past Andorra. He is the reason I now approach every single England game with the same “I told you so” attitude when we inevitably cock up.

Still. We’re gonna’ win the World Cup. It’s coming home.