The expertise of this 12 months’s England workforce is inspiring, so is the range inside the squad

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Obayed Hussain, proper, has liked soccer since he was a baby (Picture: Obayed Hussain)

Three days on from our loss and there’s an inevitable autopsy happening in each nook of the nation.

Why didn’t we win? What if Kane had scored within the first half? Why was Sterling taken off so early?

Whereas 2018 could not mark the top of 52 years of expectation, hope and damage, the 2018 World Cup can and must be remembered for therefore many different causes past the pitch.

As soon as the mud has settled, and the obligatory mourning interval is laid to relaxation, we will take much more pleasure in England’s Russia 2018 marketing campaign.

This 12 months’s World Cup has, in any case, been marked by a strong spirit of togetherness and Englishness – one thing lacking from current tournaments. Gareth Southgate captured the temper of many completely when, a number of days in the past, he mentioned: ‘We’re a workforce, with our variety and youth, that represents fashionable England.’

The squad was exceptionally younger; the common age is 26 — the joint-second youngest in the whole match — in addition to being, of all squads who’ve taken half this summer season, the least skilled on the worldwide stage.

The squad was additionally drawn from 11 completely different golf equipment, whereas seven out of 11 of Southgate’s most well-liked beginning line-up hail from ‘up north’.

Nonetheless, it’s one other side that, as an imam and equality officer for the Birmingham FA, has stood out for me particularly: this was probably the most ethnically numerous squad England has ever taken to a World Cup. Eleven of the squad of 23 are black or of blended ethnicity.

To place this into context, simply six BAME gamers made the ill-fated journey to Brazil in 2014.

Now, that will sound like simply one other statistic, however for followers from minority backgrounds, I can’t emphasise sufficient the importance of this.

This isn’t about variety for the sake of variety, it’s about having the most effective squad and — no matter their religion, background or pores and skin color — these gamers have all earned their call-up.

I like soccer and I’m proud to have the ability to work for the Birmingham FA, doing the job I dreamed of because the day I got here to the realisation I used to be by no means going to be the following Pelé.

However I’m additionally a Muslim and I’m pleased with my religion. Some individuals discover it onerous to imagine that it’s potential to be a football-obsessed Muslim, however it’s.

Rising up, watching soccer video games, there have been no gamers who ‘regarded like me’. So I do know there are many younger people who find themselves impressed by the actual fact there are extra soccer gamers who they’ll relate to.

‘It represents individuals coming collectively and having enjoyable – simply as soccer must be’ (Image: Jack Taylor/Getty Photographs)

That the likes of Danny Welbeck, Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling have Ghanaian, Kittitian and Jamaican heritage is an inspiration for younger, English, black, Asian and minority ethnic gamers, and might generate function and ambition of their younger lives.

This additionally contains Muslim gamers just like the Egyptian Mo Salah, who has taken the Premier League by storm this 12 months and captured the creativeness of Muslims globally.

There’s nonetheless a noticeable lack of British Asians in skilled soccer, however it’s unlikely to remain like this for lengthy. Easah Suliman has turn out to be the primary Asian to captain an England soccer workforce, whereas, come August, Danny Batth ought to turn out to be the primary participant of south-Asian origin to captain a facet within the Premier League, having majestically steered Wolves to the Championship title final season.

There’s nonetheless a technique to go. There are nonetheless stereotypes about what soccer followers ought to appear like, and sadly, there’s nonetheless racism in our lovely sport. It’s onerous to imagine that within the fashionable sport, a common language to many, prejudice nonetheless exists.

That’s why this summer season, alongside the Birmingham FA, I and others helped arrange the Ramadan Midnight League for Muslims and non-Muslims alike who needed to get collectively for a kickabout in the course of the fasting interval.

It represents individuals coming collectively and having enjoyable – simply as soccer must be.

England has been, and can, proceed to be a spot the place individuals from all backgrounds are welcomed. For that purpose, I’m glad that the England soccer workforce displays that richness of variety, and it might solely assist proceed to counter the stereotypes which may exist.

I need extra individuals to see that it’s potential to be each an England fan, and pleased with your religion or heritage.

When the whistle sounds on Saturday afternoon against Belgium, and ‘Soccer’s coming residence’ is belted out in refrain — and out of tune — throughout my metropolis of Birmingham, soccer followers of all colors, faiths and backgrounds will come collectively to cheer on England for one remaining time at this World Cup.

Simply because the motto for the London 2012 Olympics was ‘encourage a technology’ — serving to to create a legacy and tradition of success that was later realised in Rio in 2016 — let’s hope that England’s trailblazing spirit on the 2018 World Cup will result in related future successes.

Whereas soccer may not be ‘coming residence’ within the sense that Baddiel and Skinner meant it when that anthem first graced our terraces in 1996, what’s coming residence is much extra vital: a renewed hope and trigger for pleasure in our nationwide workforce.

Lengthy could it proceed.

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