Economy

Brits Stung By Goalie's World Cup Flub

Among the topics of conversation in the group of people with whom I watched the World Cup game between the U.S. and England was, will the English team's goal keeper ever live down his blooper?

The 1-1 tie in the first World Cup game between the two teams in 60 years came after goal keeper Robert Green mishandled a run-of-the-mill shot by U.S. midfielder Clint Dempsey, letting the ball bounce off his hands and into the goal.

While the result wasn't as shocking for the English as it would have been if the U.S. had won outright as it did in 1950, it was still not the way fans of the "Three Lions, " as the English team is called,  as they had envisioned their World Cup starting.

From some of the reaction in British news sites, English fans appeared to be struggling to understand a flub that was the futbol equivalent of Boston Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner letting the ball go through his legs in game six of the 1986 World Series.

Writing for the British newspaper the Guardian, Paul Wilson probably spoke for millions of compatriots when he wrote:

Just as South Africa opened their World Cup with a goal that will be remembered forever, so England, as is their wont, contrived to open theirs with a goalkeeping blunder that will never be forgotten. No sooner had Fabio Capello placed his confidence in Robert Green than his judgment was mocked by the sort of bungle no professional footballer can comfortably watch, an unforced error that allowed the United States back into a game on which England appeared to have a comfortable grip after Steven Gerrard's early goal.

"... A goalkeeping blunder that will never be forgotten." That's one long national memory. And a lot of hyperbole. Still, it gives some indication of the depth of feeling involved.

Then there was this from Reuters:

A howler by goalkeeper Robert Green gifted the United States an equaliser as England struggled to a disappointing 1-1 draw in their opening Group C game at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium.

The 29-year-old goalkeeper failed to stop a routine shot by Clint Dempsey after 40 minutes and the ball slipped from his grasp and dribbled across the line after captain Steven Gerrardhad put England ahead in the fourth minute.

It was a shattering moment for England and manager Fabio Capello who had gambled in handling Green only his ninth start for England and it restored the United States' confidence after a shaky opening.

You get the picture.

Green tried the stiff-upper-lip approach the British are rightly famous for.  An excerpt from the The Sun:

But Green, 30, was quick to claim the mistake would not affect his confidence ahead of the crucial games with Algeria and Slovenia.

He said: "It's done, it happened. It's not something you can allow to affect yourself.

While he had some supporters who said he was perhaps no worse than the other goal keepers the English team could turn to, sort of a back-handed compliment, not everyone was as sanguine as Green.

One commenter to the Sun piece wrote:

I cant believe the moron had the nerve to come out and say he has forgotten about it ??! that is what fundamentally wrong with English players. Its from grassroots, they are so passion less. If your as winner and you want to be the best, you don't just forget about massive howlers like that. he should be traumatized by this, he should keep his mouth shut and produce some good performances and win everyones praise again...

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