RICK JACKSON: The Three Lions prowl on with a mighty miaow...

I couldn't watch the extra time. We'd been much the better team throughout the 90 minutes but typical England couldn't put the game to bed. Absolutely no change there then.

Wednesday, 4th July 2018, 1:38 pm
Updated Monday, 16th July 2018, 5:06 pm
England's Eric Dier, Dele Alli, Kieran Trippier and goalkeeper Jack Butland take a selfie to celebrate the win over Colombia

I just felt we'd blow it. Columbia had the momentum. Not again? Surely not again? I reached for the remote control and watched an episode of Wheeler Dealers.

The car show had finished and as I turned the telly back on we were facing penalties. We'd never won a World Cup penalty shoot-out.

Demons were laid to rest when Eric Dier's penalty put us through to the quarter-finals. Surely Sweden won't be another Iceland? Oh my nerves.

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TV commentators said this was for Gareth Southgate, exorcising the ghosts of 1996, but it was more than that, so much more.

It was for us fans. Chris Waddle in 1990, Southgate in 1996, David Batty in 1998, the list and the years of hurt went on and on.

The media have been doing a lot of talking about England's chances. There's even talk of our route to the final. Over-hype yet again. But this really is a massive, once-in-a-generation opportunity.

Germany, Spain, Portugal, Argentina, big guns and big players, are out. Yes Brazil, France and Croatia remain, but they don't look like world-beaters.

Most of all, Tuesday night's victory was needed for the nation. We are so passionate about the game we invented. From now until Saturday, this country will be in fever pitch mode '“ St George's flags unfurled, pride restored, self-confidence reinstated, for now.

Let's put Brexit to the back of our minds and hope by the time Trump lands at Heathrow, we're so dizzy with football euphoria we'll welcome him with open arms and fresh fruit, instead of the rotten stuff.

As the sun blesses us with a magnificent summer, scorched fields, endless blue skies, the smell of barbecues and tanned skin we look towards what could be a summer never to forget.

No, I haven't been drinking! I'm drunk with happiness and as in 1990 and 1996, a successful national team brings us closer together and lifts our spirits.


It's holiday season for the Jackson family. By the time England play Sweden,we will be on a cruise ship in the Spanish port of Cadiz. 

I've done plenty of research for our trip. What can you do when you arrive at the port of a Spanish city with a four and a two-year-old?  Not much I've discovered.

Well, you know what? Our ship could sail around the Isle of Wight for a couple of weeks for all we care. For us, it's all about the ship, the pools, the restaurants and with the kids' clubs, an opportunity for us to have time together as a couple.

For us a cruise is the finest of '˜all-inclusive' holidays, with a different port each day. Plus, it's cooler on the Med right now!


Yes, the thought of being at sea, no mobile phone signal, a good book and a swimming pool metres away is my idea of bliss, but I hope they are able to show the footy and the cycling. 

Don't forget, the greatest race of all starts on Saturday, the Tour de France. And the defending champion is British, Chris Froome.

It took an incredible nine months for the anti-doping agency to see no wrongdoing after elevated amounts of an asthmatic drug were found in his

urine.  It dragged on so long the Tour banned him. But the case was dropped and the four-time champion can compete.

As in the football, let's hope he can bring it home. Could this be the best summer ever?