Are there any circumstances in which you could cheer on England in sport?
On Sunday, England’s Lionesses were defeated one-nil by Spain in the Women’s Football World Cup Final in Australia.
The team had won the Euro’s the previous year and England fans had high hopes that Leah Williamson’s team could bring football ‘home’.
For many Irish people, England is the country they would least like to see win a World Cup Final - but the attitude is not universal.
In 2021, ahead of the European Championships Final, then-Taoiseach Micheál Martin said, “I wish England every success and I’ll be supporting them.”
It was a sentiment echoed by Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and Off The Ball’s Adrian Barry said people’s attitudes are hugely influenced by their life experiences.
“I think that it can be a multifaceted response,” he told The Hard Shoulder.
“It can depend on what age you are in life, where in the country are you from?
“I was talking to friends in the border counties over the last couple of weeks and they would probably have a different view to [the one] I would about England’s potential progress.”
Mr Barry previously lived in England and in recent years he has come to feel decidedly neutral about whether the country wins or loses.
“I think there are just too many factors to paint the nation with one brush,” he said.
“I fall down on the, ‘I don’t mind them winning it [side].’”
That said, his indifference was sorely tested when England looked like it had a chance of winning the Men’s World Cup Final back in 2018.
“They looked like they were on some sort of a mission to end up winning the thing but they ended up falling up in the semi-final against Croatia,” Mr Barry said.
“When they were one-nil up against Croatia I was teetering a little bit at that stage, I’m not going to lie.”
The current England team is noticeably different from previous squads - in that many care passionately about social issues as well as football.
Captain Harry Kane has expressed support for the LGBT community and Marcus Rashford has campaigned vigorously against food poverty in modern Britain.
The fact England has ‘a lot of really good human beings’ on the team makes it easier to like them, Mr Barry feels.
“I was looking at Marcus Rashford going, ‘I can get behind him,’” he said.
“Gareth Southgate seems like a very nice guy… and I thought, ‘I would be okay with them winning it.’”
Main image: England footballers in Wembley Stadium. Picture by: Alamy.com