Dan Wootton: Win or lose, Euro 2020 final marks a return to normal life
The biggest game of football since the World Cup final of 66
Tonight, as we come on air, England is on the brink of making history.
Our first ever Euros final. The biggest game of football since the World Cup final of 66.
And, let’s be honest, after the 15 months this United Kingdom has just gone through, what’s taking place at Wembley Stadium right now means so much more than it usually would.
Win or lose, tonight’s final marks the closest return to normal life since the start of the pandemic.
There are tens of thousands of folk on the streets of England, ready to party like it’s 2019.
And the great and good have a lot riding on this match too.
I fully appreciate there will be many of you joining us tonight from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who don’t necessarily feel the patriotic fervour.
But I know even you will appreciate what this final means to a battle-weary UK trying to find its feet again.
While we are all hoping and praying for a win – and we will keep you posted as all the action unfolds on the pitch – I also believe that a loss to Italy will galvanise us towards a post-Covid normality.
Tomorrow Boris Johnson will confirm Freedom Day will kick off exactly a week from midnight.
Imagine if he is able to do so under the glow of a famous Euros victory.
If England does succeed today, there will be football-related politics to attend to as well.
How to celebrate this sensational team publicly, given official mass events still seem to be frowned upon?
A Bank Holiday later in the summer seems a near certainty.
So too does awarding manager Gareth Southgate and skipper Harry Kane with knighthoods.
Although the latter may be seen as more controversial given England’s World Cup winning captain Bobby Moore was never made a sir, a decision that still rankles today.
But tonight isn’t about politics, it’s about pure unadulterated joy.
It’s about coming together as a patriotic nation in a way that hasn’t happened since the 2012 Olympics.
Much has changed since then – Brexit realigned our politics and coronavirus fundamentally changed the way we live.
But football will always go on.
And in the next hour it could be coming home for the Three Lions.