England Vs Germany: Much More Than A Game Of Football.

Adebayo Adeniran
9 min readJul 2, 2021

Nothing captures England’s history of imperial pomp, postcolonial melancholia and angst, better than this fixture.

England Football Team 2018 via Wikimedia commons

Two days ago, two longstanding epic foes went to war. This time, it wasn’t waged in the trenches of Flanders and Somme, nor was it fought in the deserts of Torbruk and El Alamein or in the thick forests of Zamfara and Sambisa. On this occasion, it was in the gentrified, cosmopolitan surroundings of North-West London — Wembley, an erstwhile working class neighbourhood, which has had hundreds of millions of pounds pumped into it, thereby sanitizing it, of its demography, history and identity.

The enemies in question?

England and Germany.

A football match between these two countries has always meant more than 22 men running around the pitch, with one nation seeking to dominate the other over the course of ninety minutes or in the case of these two, in 1990 and 1996, one hundred and twenty minutes, at the end of which the Germans triumphed. It has always been about history, bloody history, which has helped shaped the course of the humankind, in the bloodiest period that humanity has ever known — the twentieth century.

Historical Antecedents.

To England, Germany was something of an upstart, a younger sibling with too many ideas above its station, a sibling who simply didn’t know its place and one with an aggressive, expansionist and militaristic mindset, intent on capturing for itself, huge amounts of space for its aggrandizement and one, definitely fixated on the prizes that the older sibling had claimed for itself, on its travels around the globe.

Germany’s mindset was always going to set it on collision course with its self-regarding, accomplished and equally ambitious sibling and it didn’t matter that Kaiser Wilhelm II was Queen Victoria’s first grandchild, nor did it matter that Prince Albert, the prince consort, was German. Stepping out of one’s bounds was an act of war and the younger sibling needed to be taught a lesson of a lifetime in electing to covet that which wasn’t his.

This “sibling rivalry” ended up being played out on the global stage — in what became known as the “Great War”, that was fought in disparate corners…

Adebayo Adeniran

A lifelong bibliophile, who seeks to unleash his energy on as many subjects as possible