Fearless young England can rewrite narrative for generations to come in Germany Euros clash at Wembley

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Fearless young England can rewrite narrative for generations to come in Germany Euros clash at Wembley
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 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

A new phrase has been doing the rounds at St George’s Park lately. Gareth Southgate’s players have been using it liberally in conversation. It is the “England Way.”

It is fair to say it has prompted some quizzical looks from the assembled media for our afternoon chats in the Burton countryside with one of the Three Lions’ youthful squad members.

To be fair, one by one, they have looked equally puzzled when asked to comment on the penalty heartache of Italia 90 or Euro 96, as if it should mean any more to them than a VHS cassette or a telephone on a cord.

Even the oldest player in the squad, Jordan Henderson, was less than a month old when Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle failed from the spot in Turin.

Marcus Rashford spoke of Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal in 2010 as his earliest memory of the rivalry – as if that comes close to reflecting the misery Germany have imposed on England for fans of a certain vintage.

It has been farcical to witness a group of middle-aged men over the past week try to convince a succession of England players why they should be so fearful of this particular rival.

After years of the FA trying to reprogram footballers produced on these shores, here we are planting that seed of doubt that has so often been our nation’s failing in major tournaments.

The “England Way” to the majority of supporters has been failure in numerous guises.

It has been to flatter to deceive, to outright flop. To be brave and gallant in defeat or a shambolic humiliation.

In the mind’s eye of many fans there is an “England Way” of our dreams that looks something like the 4-1 win against Holland in 96, the 5-1 against Germany 2001 – perhaps six minutes and two Michael Owen runs against Argentina in 98.

The reality is more like Iceland in 2016. A nation guilty of looking too far ahead and daring to dream before suffering the ultimate embarrassment.

So what is this “England Way” through the eyes of millennials – unencumbered by the failings of the past?

A World Cup semi-final, for starters. Penalty triumphs, rather than horrors, and smooth passage into the last 16 of these Euros when they might well have wondered what all the fuss was about after a goalless draw with Scotland that did nothing to stop Southgate’s team topping Group D without conceding.

Perhaps this is the “England Way” – and perhaps Tuesday night against Germany will be demonstrate it at its fullest.

 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

That is the power in the hands of this group of players – to rewrite the narrative of the national team for generations to come.

To them there is no German jinx, no penalty hoodoo.

They have no living memory of the miseries of the past, so why not concentrate on writing their own future?

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