England beat Poland 2-0 to seal their surprise qualification for the 2014 World Cup. It marks just the 14th World Cup qualification in the upstart team's 141-year history and brings an unexpected conclusion to another qualification cycle wrought with doubt, outrage and tragic hopelessness.
"I've been reading the papers and I hired my 15-year-old nephew to track what people have been saying on social media since I took the job last year," England manager Roy Hodgson told reporters. "I was convinced that we could do it. If the greatest football mind of our time, Harry Redknapp, didn't have confidence in me then what chance did we have? I can only say that I'm as stunned as anyone that we have qualified for the World Cup after finishing fifth at Euro 2012 and making it out of the group stage at each of the last four World Cups."
England's first goal against Poland was scored in the 41st minute by Wayne Rooney, a man who has overcome multiple hair transplant surgeries and being forced to collect an astronomical salary to play for a mid-table club in the Premier League — a competition that only exists to develop talent for Real Madrid. A nervy 47 minutes later, where it seemed certain England would lose even though they were winning, captain Steven Gerrard overcame his crippling proximity to his personal kryptonite, Frank Lampard, to finish Poland off with an 88th minute goal. And all this while Joe Hart, a goalkeeper who was born without hands and had the temerity to appear in a jokey shampoo commercial, miraculously kept a clean sheet to preserve the 2-0 win.
It's being hailed as a victory for underdogs everywhere as England, who were kindly allowed to win the World Cup only time they hosted the tournament in the almost fictitious year of 1966, rose all the way from first in Group H to winning it on the final day. Sources within the England team have cited Tahiti's appearance at last summer's Confederations Cup as a major inspiration — saying that if a lovable team of amateurs from a small island can qualify for a FIFA tournament, why can't a derided team of extravagantly paid professionals from a slightly larger island do it too?
Now that England have defied all odds and attempts to incite sweet, interest-generating panic by qualifying for the World Cup, will fans be allowed to indulge in the entertainment of the situation and dream of beating Spain and Brazil? Will they be scolded into expecting complete and total failure? Or will reasonable expectations of competitive performances from a team that is neither great nor terrible somehow win out and lead to a pleasant experience? England are doomed. And they're poised to win it all!
- Sports & Recreation
- 2014 World Cup