Confessions From an Obsessed England Fan Awaiting the World Cup

Having forgone the prolific tendencies that earned me a shock interview on the world-renowned EPL Talk podcast by the ace Richard Farley for a sun-kissed, eastern seaboard Atlantic Ocean vacation, I now return like an anxiety ridden bat out of Daytona Beach, rested and tanned, but more hyper for this tournament to start than ever before. And maybe, just maybe a little smarter when it comes to how the average American sports fan views this tournament and the shocking idea of an American supporting another country, more specifically England (and I bet you didn’t even know I was gone). Allow me to explain.

During my trip, I was able to sneak the 90 or so miles down to my old hometown of Palm Bay, FLA to visit with some family and see some old friends. This was the hometown of my childhood, of youth soccer, little league and Saturday’s spent at the mall with my Brother, Mother and Grandmother. Nothing but found memories upon the weekend I spent re-discovering old grounds until I witnessed the shack of a house I grew up in, seeing as when I left nine years ago, it was a massive, beautiful structure that held the dreams of my youth.

Upon my return “back home”, I had the added benefit of seeing certain key figures that were important to my growth and development as an adolescent. Somehow, most likely through family, these old friends had gained significant information on the passionate, obsessive and addicting nature that world football has had on my life in the last decade.

A key moment in our recollecting always seemed to surface when soccer, more specifically the World Cup was mentioned. In a myriad of ways and like a guilty Catholic headed to confession, I had the burden of revealing the heart of my support and the root of my passionate soccer existence, the England National team.

The contorted looks of shock and disbelief that were angled my way after this revelation were eye opening and honest. Here sat an old friend, in-laws, or unknown acquaintances who couldn’t fathom how an American could support another country during this, the most important of upcoming matches. Bemused looks of disbelief and awkward silences filled pubs and restaurants throughout the entire weekend.

The tricky passage of my walk down memory lane always came when I was asked to explain this odd and foreign support of England. Most assumed I’d simply meant I would support England after the good old USA, or as a second team, which oddly enough, everyone seemed to have as they rightfully or wrongfully smelled the USA’s early demise. “I guess it’s kind of always been England“, I would apprehensively announce. I even stated key dates in my England supporting-life, “ever since Michael Owen scored that goal v Argentina, it’s been England“. Already at the ripe old age of 15 when that event changed things, I had a lot of catching up to do.

I guess it’s quite simple, yet still immensely difficult to place into meaningful and concise words why I’m drawn to England. It has in fact always been England with the good old USA coming in second. It’s a little bit about investment of time, energy and passion. It’s about English music, it’s about the culture and it’s about the different atmosphere and respect for this sport that England has as a country. It’s about England’s disturbing and dark past that I’ve always been drawn to studying and reading about in books. It’s about this romantic yet untrue image I had of England as world-beaters as a child on all those youth soccer fields. It’s about the Premier League and the lack of viable mainstream interest in this country. It’s about caring about world football when not many do and ultimately and most importantly, it’s about my choice.

At the end of the day, over cold pints of Guinness and Heineken, all those walks down memory lane and catching up on the times were fantastic moments that I’d hope I’d encounter on my trip. Whether or not I explained my interests adequately or truly didn’t concern me. People were talking about soccer, average soccer fans at best were asking and quizzing me about the World Cup. They were now looking forward to this tournament with a keen interest matched only in our little, already established community and were excited to watch that opening match between England and USA if only to stick it to me if the States make a good show of themselves.

This summer’s potential for soccer in the states has been talked about on this site time and time again yet remains an unprecedented and unbelievable hype machine of possibility as an underground yet almost mainstream group of writers, bloggers, podcasters, fans and tweeters watch with an excited eye and misses not a moment, regardless of who we support. This is our time, this is what we have been waiting for and this is what we live for.

Feel free to share any thoughts you may have on supporting a country other than your own or your decisions when picking a second or third team to follow.

36 thoughts on “Confessions From an Obsessed England Fan Awaiting the World Cup”

  1. Jesse, nice post. I too am an England supporter. Having witnessed a few Premier League matches out there, the atmosphere is amazing and addictive. And their dark and disturbing past in international tournaments has always drawn me in too.

    But on June 12, I will be supporting my country, because when I hear our national anthem, and I see that red, white and blue, I am left helpless. When the TV flashes shots of my heroes Frank Lampard et al, they will be the enemy for one day, because my head has always been with England, but my heart cannot say no to the USA.

    I have a sneaking suspicion that by the time the 90th minute rolls around, your allegiance might revert back to the US.

    1. Perfectly put Patrick… I love England and will gladly support them in every match except for the US. However, I bleed red, white, and blue above all.

  2. I’m with you on this one. I will root for the USA because I have been trained to, but I’m not even sure I want soccer to become huge here. I’m not a self-loathing American by any means, but I am afraid that we would somehow find a way to tarnish the sport. It’s getting easier and easier to keep in touch with the European leagues between internet and TV, so I’d just as soon continue watching the Premier League from afar. That’s my main reason for supporting England–I can’t help but get invested in the stories I hear the commentators talking about during matches, learn about the cities and culture, hear about England’s struggle with international matches, and be drawn in. I hope they put in a good showing at this World Cup.

  3. Jesse,

    You just don’t get it, man. We aren’t talking about a club team here. This is your country. It doesn’t matter which matches you watched or who England did or didn’t beat. This is about supporting your family, your friends, your entire life. It’s bigger than football.

    1. “This is about supporting your family, your friends, your entire life. It’s bigger than football.”

      really? are Jesse’s family and friends on the USMT? If so, then
      yah it is kind of weird that he doesn’t support them.

  4. Ugh. Sadly, there will always be England fan boys in the US. I love watching the Prem, have been a Liverpool fan for well over a decade, have been to England more than a dozen times…but there is no way in hell I will cheer for them over the US. It’s one of the rare occasions that I actually feel patriotic.

    It is attitudes like Jesse’s which unfortunately hold the sport back here in the US. Why should a casual fan support his own country’s effort when they see someone who loves the sport supporting another country?

    It’s actually pretty disgusting.

    1. “It’s actually pretty disgusting.”

      “It’s one of the rare occasions that I actually feel patriotic.”

      I agree 100 percent on both accounts. This guy’s such a poser.

  5. Ugh.

    Come on Jesse. I’m a complete Anglophile too. English music, English television, etc. I am obsessed with all things English, and I love the Premier League and English non-league football and I love Spurs. Watching England in the ’06 WC is what got me into the game.

    But when it comes to national sides, you don’t have a choice. I am an American. My family is American, I was born here and I’ve lived my entire life here. I am not even terribly patriotic and yet I honestly believe that supporting another country (especially against your own) is borderline traitorous.

  6. Clampdown,

    For someone who is so patriotic sounds like you spend a lot of your disposable income overseas, supporting the Brits. For someone who feels so strong about supporting their country don’t you feel your hard earned American dollars would be best spent at home.

    Let the lad support who he wants at the world cup. Just like how you make the choose to financial and emotionally support on your FREE time, even if it is far away from the land of the FREE

    1. Really? How do you know what I spend and where? Not that I have to justify it to a dimwitted Canadian, but the vast majority of my money is spent here in the US.

      And if you actually read my post, you would understand that I’m not terribly patriotic. But supporting another country over your own in a sporting event is ridiculous.

      You probably wouldn’t understand that, as Canada’s best player plays for England (when he’s not crocked).

      1. Well in your post you mentioned you had been to england well over a dozen times and been a Liverpool fan for a decade. So I think it is fair to say you have spent a fair bit of funds over seas.

        Second is there really any need for name calling? You are really degrading yourself and furthering bad stereotypes of Americans, which I find rather unfortunate for all the great Americans out there. Is the name calling really necessary, your posts already make you look bad enough.

          1. Obviously not Canada, Was rooting for the Republic of Ireland but we all know how that unfolded……… come on 3 lions.

            In all honesty besides Toronto FC I’m a fairly neutral supporter club or country. And just like the premiership season when the world cup comes along I will just be happy to watch great football no matter who is playing.

        1. Normally, I don’t. But your post was filled with incorrect assumptions, which led me to believe you are dimwitted. If this is not the case, I apologize.

          And my posts make me look bad? Au contraire. The only ones who look bad here are the Americans cheering for England. They are likely to be the same ones who will start supporting the US team in 4 to 8 years, when it catches up with England, France, Netherlands, et al., on the pitch.

  7. I too am for England. The USA though I am an American do not properly respect the sport and its institutions. I will be with you Jesse on June 12th, and thousands of other Americans who love football and have built a connection with the English game and culture of football.

    1. “The USA though I am an American do not properly respect the sport and its institutions.”

      1. Hint: “Let’s eat Grandma!” vs. “Let’s eat, Grandma!” Punctuation saves lives.

      2. What does that mean, “properly respect the sport” etc.? What does the U.S. do that’s disrespectful?

  8. Nice post Jesse.
    It sorta seems like I’m a traitor, but come on England! Chelsea FC got me hooked on this sport, and so I will root for Super Frankie Lampard, Captain John Terry, and Ashley Cole on June 12, even if I’m an American.

  9. To all the Americans in here that are trying to change the minds of guys like Jesse and UpTheBlues, just stop. People that are patriotic towards the US cannot convince those that aren’t and vice versa. The guys that support “their adoptive” country England from across the pond who were born, raised and live here currently are the ones missing out. It’s one of the beauties of living in this country, you can support whatever you want and I’ve learned to accept that. Just be prepared to get flack from true Americans! Kidding… but not really.


  10. This doesn’t strike me as odd at all.In fact I thought it was normal for anyone who genuinly loves soccer,& the world cup,& is an american,to adopt another country to support….

    Whether it’s the country of your favourite club,or where your parents/ancestors are from,or just a team who’s style of play you enjoy…evryone american I know who really loves/cares about the world supports us and then a differnt nation.

    Which I do agree is part of the problem US soccer faces.we just don’t have the same sense of national pride backing us that other countries do.And with our own supporters backing other nations,it’s hard to obtain….Do you think our national team really feels like they’re letting down our nation if they don’t play well?

  11. Nice post Jesse. I was particularly drawn to this line:

    “It’s a little bit about investment of time, energy and passion. It’s about English music, it’s about the culture and it’s about the different atmosphere and respect for this sport that England has as a country.”

    I think the lines above and many of the comments that followed your post have noted that while soccer is a sport, it’s also intertwined with culture and the cultural aspects of supporters and casual fans will undoubtedly influence their rooting interests. Nationality is only one aspect of culture. For some people, it is the beginning and end, however, there are other components that make up culture, particuarly in a country like the U.S. which was founded on a multitude of cultures and cultural experiences.

    I don’t see anything wrong with supporting a nation for which you have an affinity for their culture. While it may logically follow that you should support the country that you were born in, there are plenty of external factors that make that a choice that doesn’t work for many people.

  12. No one is saying don’t support England, but not when they are playing the US. Those American players are playing for you Jesse, for our country and even though our soccer isn’t as appreciated as it is in other countries, it is still appreciated by many.

    So support your country in the games they play. This one just happens to be against the country of which you watch the most games, but you have no connection to Lampard, Terry, or whomever else you like. You have a connection to each and everyone of those American players because YOU ARE AMERICAN.

    Do the right thing.

  13. I agree with M Emanuel and 50 although I think that I’d probably go a little further on one point and say that the United States continues to not fully exist as one country in a cultural sense for a significant percentage of the U.S.A. population. It’s no longer simply a confederation of states but culturally it’s more like a network of regions making a reference to the U.S.A. similar to making a reference to Europe.

  14. Scott-

    What you just said was shameful. We are one country under one flag, and for you to compare us to Europe as some network of regions is tantamount to blasphemy. We are not like Europe. Our states have no autonomy as individual countries, we fly one flag here.

    Are you American? Really hope you’re not so I can chalk your comments up to ignorance.

  15. I said a significant percentage. I didn’t say a majority. I also said culturally. I didn’t comment on it’s federal jurisprudence or which flags are flown. Having lived in many parts of the U.S.A., my experiences tell me that the country is very big, very wealthy, still young, and is still very divided in its identities. If anything, I think that it is surprising at how cohesive the U.S.A. already is. When football was first getting its rules codified, the U.S.A. was waging a nasty civil war. There is still a lot of resentment towards the north in the southeast. And northerners often are very dismissive of those in southeast. That resentment is matched in the legacies of slavery and Jim Crow laws. A huge tract of the west was still territories and seems to be more removed. Additionally, about 40 million of its population are immigrants which is a significant amount of the population and just a lot of different culturally identities running around. And this immigration is a perpetuation of a legacy of immigration which has set up ethnic enclaves and an unsettled question of national character. There is a reason a majority of people from the states are particularly aware of their recent ancestor’s backgrounds and why the genealogy business is so big in the U.S.A. It is also a gigantic country in terms of land mass. I also think that it is interesting that Texas maintains its right (30-40% of the population) to become an independent nation again. This of course doesn’t even mention Alaska, Hawaii, or the territories in terms of their weirdness as related to the contiguous U.S.A. I don’t mean any insult to the country, I just think that there are very different cultural spheres that make some citizens of the U.S.A. more ambivalent about traditional nationalist rallying cries like football. There are other factors as well. Some like the U.S.A.’s wealth and it’s interference in other governments/countries might be more relevant and might be more accurate. Just my thoughts though.

    1. You don’t appear to be an American (at least you didn’t answer the question) so how would you know what being American is about? You have drawn some interesting conclusions based on, what I’m guessing is, your observations as an ex-pat. You have concluded incorrectly.

      Jesse is a ManU and England supporter/wannabe that, based on his many articles, hasn’t had an original thought. This is a re-hash that is designed to generate hits. Unfortunately, I fell victim. Slow day for real news.

  16. I can see the viewpoints of just about everyone, as I come from a “British background” (mother from England, father Scotland) and am very passionate and honest about my support of both of those respective national teams
    (I know,true blasphemy , I get it from family as well). I have always been proud of my family heritage, in addition, I follow both the EPL and SPL with equal interest (and when visiting the UK in the past taken in a game from both England and Scotland of my fave team from each league). Anyone who knows me understands just about all my music, television,pop-culture, fashion sense etc is UK influenced. I have had many people,in my everyday life, very sarcasticly and some with real anger in thier voice say ” I bet you’re going to be rooting for England aren’t you?” However, on 12 June I will be supporting the nation of my birth, USA (and then England after that day.) In fact when I heard they were paired in the same group I was gutted, but not for the reason most are posting on here..the game itself. For me, past WC’s were great in terms of being able to take time off during the tournament, as I would take the days England played in their group and the USA in their’s. This year I had to be a little more creative..ha C’mon Yanks!

  17. Oscar Wilde once said patriotism is the virtue of the vicious.

    Its funny reading the comments of a lot of Americans attacking you for putting your views across. It would seem like you shot Jesus or something. It’s a very backwards way of thinking everybody on this website has a right to support who they choose to support and you shouldn’t attack them because you disagree with that choice.

    Truth of the matter is if you feel more affinity with British culture then that is fine. Forcing somebody to support “their own” is wrong on so many levels, you are an individual act like it.

    The funny thing is I’m English and I live in Britain. I’ve supported Brazil in past world cups and while everybody had an England shirt on I adopted a Brazil one. Nobody had a bad word to say to me, people were not so stupid to assume that I hate Britain and everything it stands for because I prefer the way the Brazilians play.

    This whole “love your nation and hate others” is trying to compensate for something, if you are having to go out of your way to prove you love something then maybe you need to think about whether or not you really love it.

    1. OK, Tyson. But did you support Brazil when they were playing against England in the World Cup? And would you wear the Brazil shirt in England when the two teams play each other?

    2. Hey man, I love Oscar Wilde. He’s brilliant, funny, provocative. But who lives their life by his clever quotes?

      But what is the point then of having a World Cup if citizens don’t support their own team? I can just picture the World Cup commercials now, with Bono crooning away and the Ivory Coast fans cheering in their …. Chelsea shirts, for England to win. Hmmm.

      How can the World Cup have any meaning if your allegiance is really only to a club and individual players?

  18. It strikes me as very odd to support another country against your own, but I don’t begrudge anyone their fandom. Whatever works for you, enjoy it.

    At the same time, I think those Americans who support England on June 12 are really missing out. An England win for those fans will never be as sweet as an American win will be for the rest of us.

  19. Love of the Premiership should not in any way infer support for England’s international team. The clubs are financial entities committed to signing the best talent regardless of nationality with no loyalty or connection to the England team other than the few players who are selected. The English premier league is one of the most watched and biggest supported televised sports in Europe but there will be very few non_english Europeans supporting England when the World Cup starts (for obvious historical reasons). English club football is fantastic but its sad that someone would support their national team because of that. Have some national pride and support your country!

  20. Good Lord! All the guy says is that he likes English football, comes from a country that pretty much doesn’t give a damn about it, and roots for a country that does love football and that has a rich tradition associated with it. Seems to make sense to me. I’m American and I like the US team ok, but I’m way more invested in the Spanish and Italian players who play football I love to watch. Can we escape our fing national prisons for one freaking month and just support who we want because it makes us happy, fergawdsake? Why does everything have to be loyalty test?

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