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Opinion: Young lions give us back our national pride

PUBLISHED: 08:00 15 July 2018

Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas signing the book of commitment

Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas signing the book of commitment

Office of Jon Cruddas

England’s brilliant exploits in the World Cup have achieved something quite remarkable.

At a time of such vacuum in leadership and disarray over Brexit, Gareth Southgate’s team have managed to unite the whole of England around a single cause.

They have done it with true style, young lions covering themselves in glory.

They are likeable, polite, under-stated and charming off the pitch.

And on the pitch, their passionate brand of youthful, free-passing football has been such a contrast to the stumbling nervous dispositions of their predecessors.

But most of all I have been struck by the words of Gareth Southgate: Asked about whether supporters were “connecting” with the team, the manager started discussing modern English identity.

He said: “We’re a team with our diversity and youth that represents modern England and in England we’ve spent a bit of time being lost as to what our modern identity is, and I think as a team we represent that modern identity and hopefully people can connect with us.”

He added: “We have a chance to affect something bigger than ourselves.”

As a longtime advocate of restoring pride to the English nation, I couldn’t be more thrilled by these words from a football manager. Yes, a football manager!

I really hope it is true and that our communities coming together around this squad of young men – many of whom have had to battle hard through the lower divisions – symbolises a new confidence in our cultural and national identity.

What is undeniably true is they have inspired a nation.

So let’s leave the tears of defeat behind on the field at Moscow and celebrate their coming home this weekend.

Now is not the time to put away our flags.

Whether it’s town halls, workplaces, schools, or wherever, let’s keep them flying high.

Let’s say: This is England 2018 and this is our flag!

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