England vs Portugal

OK, this was the plan:- Arrive in Lisbon on Saturday at 14:20h local time, head to my girlfriend’s house, sit down with a beer or glass of wine and some good food, accompanied by girlfriend and friends, all fervent Portugal supporters, and watch England take revenge for losing to Portugal on penalties in Euro 2004, spending the rest of the afternoon smugly basking in the glory of yet another epic victory of the English national side.

I should have realised my dream wasn’t going to come true when I arrived at Madrid airport only to find that the TAP flight to Lisbon was delayed by 40 minutes. I can tell you now, a delay of just 40 minutes would have been wonderful! I was already sensitive to airline delays having arrived in Madrid 3 hours late from Paris just the day before. So when we finally started boarding the flight after it’s scheduled take-off time, waited for half an hour, were told by the captain we’d be leaving 10 minutes later and then 20 minutes later the crew started serving food because we’d be stationary at the gate “probably another hour”, I was fuming! I wasn’t even going to get to see England’s most important football game of the World Cup!

Finally we arrived in Lisbon at around 17:25h – 3 hours later than scheduled! And this for a 1 hour flight! My girlfriend was waiting to meet me and I urged her to find the nearest possible cafeteria to see what I still hoped would be the dying moments of England’s monumental victory. We had a coffee and watched a bit of the game, but realised that extra time was likely so decided to risk driving to her house where her friends were waiting, hoping to see the extra time and maybe the penalties.

I jumped into the driving seat and sped over the Vasco da Gama bridge towards Moita. Confirmation that the gods were against me on this day was the fact that, 5 minutes from her house, we ran out of diesel! We managed to get the car started on the last dregs and made it to a petrol station. We filled up and at last made it to her house.

Of course, we all now know the ending of this particular sob story: I sat down in front of the TV, beer in hand and a plate of “gambas” before me, only to watch England fail to get through the quarter finals once more and submit to defeat by Portugal in the penalties after time, a repeat of the result 2 years ago at the European Championships.

Of course, all around me were jumping in the air, shouting, screaming and singing. In the street, car horns blared and people were at their balconies smiling and waving flags of all sizes at each other in a nationwide celebration of victory over the English. And yet they still don’t consider it revenge for 1966 🙂

Oh well, just another 4 years to wait!

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