Brits Abroad – Part 16: I know that was then…

Hello and I guess maybe that should be Konichiwa as the Brits Abroad are about to board a plane for Japan for the 2002 World Cup. To catch you up, last week Benfica’s Brits Abroad retained the Champions League and the Portugese league to add to the European Super Cup and World Club Cup. The only blemish was a Portugese Cup final defeat to Sporting, which will annoy me but the show must go on. Now matters turn International.

The World Cup is only held in Japan, which is a shame for South Korea but a limitation of 1997. The group is an absolute shambles and we’ll do well to get out of it.

This is the squad I’ve named, obviously all playing for Benfica. I am going to sign a few more England players and if somebody gets injured, I can get them a late flight.

Such as…

So now we just need somebody to get injured, hopefully not one of the good lads either. That’s a horrible thing to wish on somebody but Fowler is good, to say the least. Jilted hosts South Korea take another loss and play 77 minutes a man light.

A real test of where we are comes in the form of France away. We hold our own for a bit but as we chase the game 2-1 becomes 4-1 and Redknapp’s late free kick makes it seem less of a thrashing. Let’s go to Japan.

This would of been ideal. Instead we’ve got to listen to this mad man explain to us how necks aren’t real and he’ll be fine. I just hope nobody offers him an injection, that’s not a discussion we need.

It’s Iceland up first and Curtis is suspended, which to be honest at least means he’ll be back for Germany. This is a must win, given our next two opponents.

The job is done inside 19 minutes. I need not have worried about most of these lads making their World Cup debut. Gallen obviously hits the ground running.

Germany edge the clash of the titans.

We’ll have to manage without Gallen against Germany.

I bring in Dion Dublin and move to a back three – it works a charm, lone ranger Bridges nets twice and despite a late onslaught, we hold on for a win. Normally, you’d think that would put us through…

However, Spain go berserk against Iceland meaning if they beat us they’ll go above us and we’ll need Germany to not have similar joy.

Typically there’ll be no Bridges for the Spain clash.

The group is tight. It’s awkward, a narrow loss might be ok but I wouldn’t want to chase it.

We stick with a back three but with Gallen in for Bridges. It’s exactly as I feared, we manage 1 shot on goal but a 1-0 loss preserves our goal difference. If Germany win by 4, we’re out.

They don’t! Iceland actually lead twice and it’s a disaster for the Germans.

Delight for us but we’ll face a group winner in the last 16.

Denmark are like Brazil in this game. Either route was fraught with issues.

Having said that, France lose to Czech Republic and then…

So if we were Spain, we’d be laughing. But we’re not.

Denmark is a horrible tie. They produce players like Manchester United in the early 90s, seemingly on an endless conveyor belt. This guy has been a thorn in my side for Sporting all season.

I needn’t have worried. With Dion again in as a third centre half and Youngs in for the suspended Thorpe, we run riot and by the time our mate Graulund nets a consolation, I’ve already got a hotel booked for the Quarters.

The gauntlet side of the draw remains a pain in the arse.

This is a big game. The Portugese media do not like what we’ve done at Benfica, one of the big three has had it’s identity taken for my own humour. I blame Souness. Anyway, that makes this a sort of derby. They’ll know what we’re all about.

This is the new normal.

Oh what a night. Barely 15,000 people turn out to watch Richard Rufus snatch a late leveller and send the game to extra time. The Taxi headlines had written themselves. Southgate gets sent off which actually helps in the shootout as everybody scores. Semis! And we’re also into the last 4.

Holland beat Brazil, which you’d have to say is helpful.

Not as helpful as this though. It’s Euro 96 all over again as the Czechs will await in the final, only this time we have to beat Holland and not Germany.

Dublin is banned, along with Youngs and Southgate. Haslam is nowhere near the level required and we have no other defensive midfielder.

Attack is the best form of defence. Clemence in. The front two reunited.

This damn Dutch formation. Kluivert is lethal unless he’s yours.

This is one of those occasions where everything comes up trumps. Bridges and Gallen both net and despite Kluivert reducing the arrears, it’s in vain. We’re in the final!

Ooooh it’s all so official.

I could cry. He’s been a wonderful help.

This is the side we’ve entrusted to bring the World Cup home. Southgate is still banned.

Here’s the Czech’s. Poborsky of course was the last non-Brit to depart.

We are at our brilliant best in the first 20 minutes. Bridges, Rufus and Thorpe put one our hands on the trophy. There’s some tomfoolery but Youngs settles it. England win the World Cup final 4-2, how fitting.

I bet you are.

Holders and hosts. See you there.

Fair to say that’s a mighty amount of performance points. No wonder the Script sang about it.

Well, obviously.

Nothing for any of the lads but plenty of winners medals.

Well, I didn’t think we’d win it. Where we do we go from here? Hopefully see you next week to find out.

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