How To Sound Like A Football Expert Even If You're A Numpty

As World Cup fever sweeps the land and the sounds of the iconic It's Coming Home ring in your ears, you may be one of those people sitting there feeling like a numpty as everybody except you seems to know what the hell is going on and who all the players are. So I've cobbled together a little crib sheet so you can sound vaguely knowledgeable as England take on Croatia in the semi-finals.

The first thing you should know is that all true male England fans genuinely believe that with the right breaks they would be playing for their country or managing the team - and that they know better than anyone on the pitch or manager Gareth Southgate.

Right, so here are a few facts about the players, so you at least know which club they play for - and there's the odd comment you can throw into the mix that might impress or surprise one or two people.

There is a squad of 23 players and here they are:

No, she's not in the squad. This is Harry Kane's little girl Ivy in a picture posted on Instagram

Captain Harry Kane, 28, born in Walthamstow, London (Captain - of the team, he's not in the Army or anything).
Plays for Tottenham Hotspur, signing for them at the age of 11.
A few details: The Guardian ranked Kane the fifth-best footballer on the planet in 2017. Kane abstains from alcohol during the football season and has a full-time chef to optimise his nutrition. He went to school with his fiancee Katie Goodland, who is pregnant. They already have a little girl called Ivy. Manager Gareth Southgate applauded Kane's “belief in being able to score every time he plays.”
You can say: "He's such an inspirational captain," and, "He could well win the Golden Boot [awarded to the player with the most goals]."

Jesse Lingard, 25, born in Warrington
Plays for Manchester Utd . He joined Manchester United's youth academy at the age of seven and progressed through the age groups.
A few details: He was part of the Manchester United team that won the 2010–11 FA Youth Cup. He is a cousin of Everton women's player Gabrielle George. He's been  hailed world football's social media king with messages like these on Twitter @jesselingard and Instagram @jesselingard:

You can say: "I love Lingard's Twitter and Instagram accounts, don't you?" or "Lingard's work rate is phenomenal."

Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, 24, born in Washington, Tyne and Wear.
Plays for Everton, signed from Sunderland for £25m.
A few details: Third most expensive goalkeeper in history, most expensive British goalkeeper of all time. Criticised for being too short to be a goalkeeper at 6ft 1in but is now happily proving everyone wrong. So far he has hardly put a foot - or hand - wrong. But you know how it is in football, a few bad moves and he's the enemy again.
You can say: "At least he's proving his worth as the most expensive British goalkeeper ever," if he's doing well, or "God, you never would have thought he was the most expensive British goalkeeper ever," if he's having a mare of a game.

This is what Kyling is all about! 
Kyle Walker, 28, born in Sheffield
Plays for Manchester City, signed from Tottenham for £45m.
A few details: His first big club was Sheffield Utd and at the age of 18 he joined Northampton on loan. He'd never driven  on the motorway before so his dad made him follow him and his mum down the M1. Walker said: "My dad was petrified of me driving on the motorway and thought I was going to kill myself or something." He started a bizarre internet trend with people imitating the position he was in when treated for cramp, soon dubbed "kyling".
You can say: "Let's hope he's man of the match like he was against Sweden in that friendly in 2011," or "If he scores I'm going to start Kyling!"

Eric Dier, 24, born in Cheltenham
Plays for Tottenham Hotspur, signed for Sporting CP (Portugal) for £5m in 2014
A few details: Dier moved to Portugal when he was 7 after his mother was offered a job running the hospitality programme at UEFA Euro 2004.  In 2010, his parents returned to England while Dier remained in Portugal, living at Sporting CP's academy. He is the grandson of Ted Croker, a former secretary of FA. He became an England World Cup hero when he scored the winner in a penalty shoot-out against Colombia.
You can say: "He's so versatile. It's good to have a player , who can play midfield, centre back AND right back," and, "His confidence has soared since he scored that penalty."

Phil Jones, 26, born in Preston
Plays for Manchester Utd, signed from Blackburn for an undisclosed sum, believed to be around £16.5m in 2011.
A few details:  Known for his physical power and build, Jones has been called a "jack of all trades" for his ability to play at centre-back, right-back or as a defensive midfielder. He is also known for the faces he pulls while playing. In fact there's a Twitter account @facesofphiljones that includes posts like the one below:

You can say: "I love that Twitter account with all those pictures of Phil Jones pulling faces. It's a riot!" and, "He always looks so comfortable on the ball."

John Stones, 24, born in Barnsley
Plays for Manchester City, signed from Everton for £47.5m in 2016
A few details: He was the world's second most expensive defender in history, behind David Luiz. He was pictured with some heavy-looking strapping and ice around his left calf after the Belgium game. Thankfully, it seems to have done him no harm and he was back playing brilliantly in the 2-0 defeat of Sweden.
You can say: "Lothar Matthaus [captain of Germany when they won the World Cup in 1990] believes Stones is one of the best defenders in the game." 

Harry Maguire, 25, born in Sheffield
Plays for Leicester, signed from Hull for £12m in 2017.
A few details: Maguire's brothers, Joe and Laurence, are also footballers, Joe at Fleetwood Town and Laurence at Chesterfield. Spanish midfield Cesc Fabregas raved about Maguire in his column for the Daily Telegraph. An England fan last week got a tattoo of Harry Maguire's face on his chest.
You can say: "Well, if Fabregas is raving about him, you gotta sit up and take notice," and "He's been immaculate in England's back three."

Jordan Henderson, 28, born Sunderland
Plays for Liverpool, signed from Sunderland in 2011 for an undisclosed fee thought to be around £16m-£20m.
A few details: Jordan Henderson is England's lucky charm.  Henderson extended his unbeaten record in an England shirt to 30 matches (he didn't play in the Belgium game) in the match again Sweden.
You can say: "Thank God missing that penalty against Colombia hasn't affected him," and, "His positional understanding is remarkable."

Raheem Sterling, 23, born in Kingston, Jamaica
Plays for Manchester City, signing from Liverpool for £44m, one of the most expensive footballers of all time.
A few details:  He's probably one of the most controversial of the England players and is often picked on by the Press. He was criticised for having an M16 rifle tattooed on his leg by the Press and  by anti-violence groups but he said that the tattoo had a deeper meaning and referred to his father who was killed when Sterling was two years old. He's a bit of a Marmite player with the public - you either love him or hate him.

You can say: "I hope that rifle tattoo means he can shoot at goal. Geddit?" or, "At least he always shows a willingness to run behind the other team's defence."

Kieran Trippier, 27, born in Bury
Plays for Tottenham Hotspur, signed from Burnley for a reported £3.5m
A few details: Trippier joined Manchester City's academy at the age of nine but his family are Manchester United fans. He is a David Beckham fan. He said: "Beckham was the one I always looked up to. The technique, his crossing, on the move or set pieces. He is the one I used to look up to on crossing the ball.”

You can say: "You can see he's moulded his game on Beckham's. He's got that style about him."

Dele Alli, 22, born Milton Keynes
Plays for Tottenham Hotspur, signed from MK Dons in 2015 for £5m
A few details: Alli watches the best players to try to learn from their style of play, including Lionel Messi, Xabi Alonso, AndrĂ©s Iniesta and Xavi as well as his idol Steven Gerrard.  His teammate Harry Winks described Alli as being like Fernandinho, but Dele Alli has described his own playing style as "a cross between Gerrard and Yaya TourĂ©."  In a bit of footballer's cliche, his girlfriend is lingerie model Ruby Mae.

You can say: If he's doing well, "He says he's a cross between Steven Gerrard and Yaya Toure and I can see why." If he's doing badly, "He says he's a cross between Steven Gerrard and Yaya Toure. My ass."

Trent Alexander-Arnold, 19, born in Liverpool
Plays for Liverpool, spotted at the age of a 6 at a community summer camp by academy coach Ian Barrigan who offered him the chance to train at the academy.
A few details: In 2015 he was singled out in his autobiography by former Liverpool and England captain Steven Gerrard, who tipped him to have a bright future at the club. He is the nephew of former Reading and Millwall footballer, and former Manchester United club secretary John Alexander.  His maternal grandmother, Doreen Carling, was once a girlfriend of former United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, before moving to New York City. 
You can say: "Did you know Alexander-Arnold's grandmother was once a girlfriend of Alex Ferguson?"

Danny Rose, 28, born in Doncaster.
Plays for Tottenham Hotspur, signed from Leeds for £1m in 2007.
A few details: Rose's younger brother Mitch Rose plays for Grimsby Town. He is the cousin of footballer Michael Rankine, whose uncle Mark Rankine also played professional football. He was also eligible to play for Jamaica through his Jamaican grandfather.

You can say: If he's playing well: "Thank God he signed for England and not Jamaica." If he's playing badly, "He should have signed for Jamaica, not England."

Jamie Vardy, 31, born in Sheffield
Plays for Leicester City, signed from non-league Fleetwood Town for £1m in 2012, a non-league record.
A few details:  Before turning professional, Vardy combined playing non-League football with a job as a technician making medical splints. In 2007 when playing for Stocksbridge Park Steels, he received a conviction for assault following an incident outside a pub, and had to play with an electronic tag fitted for six months.
You can say: "I bet he's the only England player who's ever played football with an electronic tag!"

Goalkeeper Jack Butland, 25, born in Bristol
Plays for Stoke City, signed from Birmingham for around £3.3m.
A few details: Like Nick Pope (see below), he's unlikely to play unless Jordan Pickford is injured or England are 7-0 up near the end of the match (we wish...). In January 2014, Butland had his car, an Audi RS5, stolen from his house in Walsall. In December 2015, Butland donated £5,000 to the Great Britain women's deaf football team.
You can say: "Liverpool should sign Butland. They need a good goalkeeper, although Klopp seems to be sticking with Karius."

Danny Welbeck, 27, born in Manchester
Plays for Arsenal, signed from Manchester Utd for £16m in 2014
A few details: He is known for his work-rate and has been described as strong, quick, and good in the air. Welbeck was a regular for England’s youth sides and both he and Rose were part of the squad for the U17 World Cup in 2007. Alongside them was Tristan Plummer - now a regular on hit Channel 4 show Gogglebox
You can say: "Fancy Welbeck and Rose playing with Tristan Plummer from Gogglebox in the England under-17s."

Gary Cahill, 32, born in Dronfield, Derbyshire
Plays for Chelsea, signed from Bolton for around £7m in 2012
A few details: Cahill almost did not make the squad this summer – Gareth Southgate dropped him for the March friendlies – and it was only his late-season improvement for Chelsea, winning back his place, that got him into the squad.
You can say: If he's playing well, "Thank God Southgate decided to include him in the squad." If he's playing badly, "Why the hell Southgate included him in the squad I'll never know."

Fabian Delph, 28, born Bradford
Plays for Manchester City, signed from Aston Villa for a reported £8m in 2015.
A few details:  In 2008 he was convicted of drink-driving. He has a vegan diet.  He left the England squad briefly to return home to be at the birth of his daughter. He said the dramatic penalty shoot-out with Colombia sent his wife Natalie into labour!
You can say: "I wonder what effect being a vegan has on his fitness?"

Ashley Young, 33 (he had his 33rd birthday on July 9), born Stevenage
Plays for Manchester Utd, signed from Aston Villa in 2011 for an undisclosed sum believed to be around £15m-£20m
A few details: Ashley Young has courted controversy, having been accused of diving by the press and has been spoken to by former managers Sir Alex Ferguson and David Moyes about diving to gain an unfair advantage. His "hero and role model" is Ian Wright.
You can say: "That corner kick against Sweden was a belter!"

Marcus Rashford, 20, Wythenshaw, born Manchester
Plays for Manchester Utd, after joining the academy system at the age of 7.
A few details: On 25 February 2016 Rashford played in a UEFA Europa League match, scoring two goals in a 5-1 win. This made him Manchester Utd's youngest ever scorer in European competition, beating George Best's record. He was born on Halloween.
You can say: "He scares me, that boy. Well, he was born on Halloween."

Ruben Loftus-Cheek, 22, born Lewisham
Plays for Chelsea, signing for them at the age of 8
A few details: Loftus-Cheek was compared to Germany great Michael Ballack by former Chelsea and England manager Glenn Hoddle, who said that: "He reminds me of Ballack – physically and the way he plays", and went on to say: "He gets in the box and he moves well off the ball."
You can say: "He gets in the box and he moves well off the ball."

Goalkeeper Nick Pope, 26, born in Soham
Plays for Burnley, signed from Charlton Athletic for an undisclosed sum
A few details:  England penalty hero Eric Dier credited Nick Pope with helping him with his technique from 12 yards.  Although Pope didn't play in the game against Colombia, Dier has thanked him for  helping him prepare for penalties. 
You can say: "He's played well for Burnley. It's a shame we haven't seen more of him but you couldn't leave out Pickford after that Colombia game."

So there you are, a few hints and tips to turn you into a footballing expert.

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  1. I think you would be surprised by the interest on this side of the pond, actually. Of course, that doesn't include me. I no longer care about baseball, either. ~grin~ Be well, my dear!

    1. I love my football! Big day today for England - but we're used to losing and will bow out gracefully if needs be. Hopefully we won't need to be "graceful"!

  2. My method:
    1. find out which teams are playing
    2. find out which team husband favours
    3. stay well away from the TV unless delivering food
    4. yell out "go (team name)" whenever husband cheers

    1. That's a very cunning plan and useful for all other people with football mad partners!

  3. This is a most useful guide. I really am going to learn some of those facts and reel them off when hubby is watching the footie!!!

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