Thank You England!

Article published on June 21, 2004
community published
Article published on June 21, 2004

This article has not been vetted by an editor at Paris HQ

What’s this, the English and the Germans don’t like each other? Who says? Football history would suggest the opposite is true, as our Munich cafe babel editor argues in his open letter…

Dear England,

A cruel, if lovingly nourished, prejudice about our two nations says that, especially when it comes to football, we can’t bear each other. But - seeing as Europe isn’t only getting bigger, we’re also being squeezed a bit closer together - it’s finally time to put an end to this superficial cliché propagated by hateful tabloids. In actual fact, the truth is we love you and you love us. Unconditionally and whole-heartedly. Surprised? Well, there are a few good reasons to believe me. Admittedly, the Second World War, the Blitzkrieg against England and the V2 bombs on London, all that wasn’t very nice of us. But, now then, let’s just ask ourselves, where it was exactly that this evil scoundrel Hitler emerged from in those dark years to take power of our peace-loving young nation. Well? Quite right: Adolf was Austrian, not a German at all! That’s why, if I may say so, your dirty mudlark tabloids, which surely don’t reflect the true views of your people, should really give up dragging the same old Nazi metaphors into the headlines at every Euro and World Cup. All that “Fritz attacks” or “Fight against the German Tanks” and so on ad infinitem. You’d have looked a bit silly if your soldiers had been as hopelessly apologetic in the war back then as your country’s team was in the World Cup against us. For that reason alone, all those war comparisons are quite out of place.

We love you

It isn’t just a matter of us not hating you. Quite the reverse: we even love you. Aside from the fact that you simply have to love a country that brought the world the Beatles, David Beckham and driving on the left, our people are of one kin. Just like you, we’re tireless fighters and ankle-biters; just like you, we understand as little about modern football as Tony Blair does about peace building. Just like you, and quite unlike the wine-slurping French, we pride ourselves on pointlessly knocking back beer till we’re shipped off to Casualty. And our hooligans are just as good as yours at battering a few innocent fans from the opposition after a match that didn’t turn out so well. Yes, we love English culture so dearly, that we don’t just nick all the words we can from your language; we even invent our own English words that don’t even exist in English. Instead of using mobile phones, we use our Handy. We don’t just look after our health; we work on our personal Wellness. Wow, us Germans, we’re just so cool.

So far, so good, you might say. But, you ask, why the hell should we English fall for you Germans? Clearly you already have, because you have let us win every football match in history. How else can you explain the constant failed shots, the endless self-denial of the big points, than as self-sacrificial and devoted adoration? The national team of the country where football was invented, after all, couldn’t be so stupid as to let so many perfect opportunities to kick the allegedly detested Germans out of the most important championships simply slip by. Is that not evidence enough?

The World Cup ’90, the semi-final. Man, that was your chance to get back into the final. But then Chris Waddle drove the ball so high over the crossbar, as if he’d mistaken the occasion for a clay pigeon shooting championship. Can a football pro shoot so badly? Hardly. Unless he was acting for the good of blossoming international relations.

And he misses!

Shit happens you might say but it can’t be that simple. The European Cup ’96, the semi-final again: Extra time. It was time for the “golden goal”. You’re charging towards our goal, Gascoigne gets the ball on the right wing and all he has to do is keep his feet on the ball. But what happens? He misses it! So you can really understand this, I’ll repeat it: he misses it. Imagine. You could have been in the final, on your own soil. It was sheer meanness of Gascoigne to give such free reign to his love for Germany and to have given away the ball. Then I suppose I hardly need mention Southgate shooting the ball so softly and gracefully at the goal from 11 metres that our goalkeeper Andi Köpke only had to extend his arms to catch the ball and with it our entry to the finals.

But really, you didn’t have to. After all, we’d already been World Champions three times and European Champions three times, and you’d only been World Champions once and never been European Champions. We understood perfectly that you really wanted to give us the victory at Wembley in ’66, but it was just that idiot Russian linesman who ruined it by giving you a goal (that wasn’t really one at all).

But perhaps it’ll work out at this Euro Cup and we’ll be playing for the big title. At any rate, we, and of course I speak on behalf of the German football loving public, could not in the depths of our hearts begrudge it to you. And if we can, we’ll make it up to you for all the gifts you’ve given us in the course of football history. You can be quite sure of that.