Who Should I Support in EURO 2008?

England Out McClarenAs you might have noticed, England haven’t made it to the big dance. Despite the added pain, I’d almost rather that they’d fail to qualify for a World Cup rather than a European Championship: firstly, because the former is always fascinating even without a home team to support. Secondly, there are interesting non-European teams one can get behind. The last time England failed to qualify for the World Cup, 1994, I suddenly became a Nigerian Super Eagle for a couple of weeks. Then Baggio ripped my heart out in the second round.

EURO 2008, though, threatens to be a bore unless I can bring myself to support someone. Blood-wise, I’ve no connection to any of the qualified nations. So who should it be?

  • Austria? Umm, even their own fans aren’t getting behind them.
  • Switzerland? Well, it’d be nice to see a home team do well. But I can’t say my pulse has raised a jot thinking about them.
  • Poland? Never show up once qualified for a tournament.
  • Portugal? My grandma was mugged there when she was on holiday in Lisbon. Can’t cheer for them as a result.
  • Italy? I’ve always had a sneaking respect for them. But such is the mess the game’s in over there, this wouldn’t be the best time for them to win another tournament.
  • France? Maybe if they still had Zidane. But they don’t.
  • Greece? Lord, not again.
  • Turkey? Ah — anyone know if Colin Kazim-Richards will be in the final squad? OK, he was crap for Brighton and a bit of an arsehole, but it’s not often one of our former players strides the big stage and he won his first cap this year.
  • Czech Republic? Used to like Nedved. Can’t think of much else to say about them, frankly.
  • Germany? You’re joking, right? Nothing against them politically or culturally, but the pain of 1990 still lingers to this day.
  • Croatia? I’ve long enjoyed their football. They have a zany kit. But they also have fans who form human swastikas. I’m sure it’s a tiny minority, and an England fan is in no position to sneer, but it’s stuck in my mind.
  • Russia? Almost dreadful enough to let England sneak in? No thanks.
  • Spain? Come on, as if supporting England isn’t frustrating enough.
  • Sweden? My (different) grandma had a nice holiday there once. I used to think Thomas Ravelli was cool. Ibrahimović can be pretty good from time to time. But. . .Where’s the thrill?
  • Romania? Only if they still have Hagi and Dumitrescu. Or if they all dye their hair pink.
  • Netherlands? The obvious choice. Produced my favourite player ever. Love their footballing philosophy, their colours, their insane tendency to self-destruct at the worst possible moment. But not wildly excited by their current team, would perhaps be the wrong tournament to get behind them.


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