The most glorious way to win something is to be the best – there’s no feeling like it.
But if you can win something by being the only participant….well, that still counts.
And it’s by that logic that the United Kingdom and Ireland will ‘win’ the right to host Euro 2028 – the only other contender, Turkey, has dropped out of the bidding.
So, unless something unexpected happens, England, Scotland, Wales and both Northern and the Republic of Ireland will host the 2028 edition of the European Championships – a right result for England in particular, given that they effectively hosted the rescheduled 2020 edition of the tournament as well.
The ten host stadiums have already been chosen, with Wembley, the Principality Stadium, Hampden Park and the Aviva Stadium leading the way alongside two venues that are yet to be completed – Everton’s Bramley Dock site and the revamped Casement Park in Belfast.
There is a school of thought that suggests hosting a tournament can improve the host’s chances of lifting the trophy at the end of it, and England in particular will be fancied to go very close to winning Euro 2028.
In a handy arbiter of potential success, a strong handful of England teams have won majors on home soil in the past….
World Cup 1966 – Men’s Football
It perhaps remains the most revered achievement in English team sports history.
The final was iconic in itself, with England and Germany renewing old acquaintances and Geoff Hurst’s famous ‘did it or didn’t it?’ goal ultimately leading the hosts to a 4-2 victory and a sole hoisting of the Jules Rimet Trophy.
The tournament itself was considered a huge success too, and despite the absence of any African teams – they collectively withdrew over a row over how many qualifications places were on offer, this was one of the first occasions in which the major footballing nations came together without any controversy.
England comfortably came through a group that included France, Uruguay and Mexico, before besting Argentina 1-0 in the quarter-finals in the first of some rather tempestuous World Cup meetings that would follow.
Portugal provided stubborn resistance in the semi-final, but the Three Lions would prevail courtesy of Sir Bobby Charlton’s brace.
And the final? Well, nobody around at the time in England will ever forget where they were when they heard Kenneth Wolstenholme’s iconic words: ‘they think it’s all over, it is now….’
World Cup 1993 – Women’s Cricket
No England sports side has won more World Cups than the women’s cricket team.
They’ve technically won the tournament three times – in 1973, they triumphed in a round-robin competition, but in 1993 and 2017 (more on that shortly) they would lift the trophy after prevailing in the final.
— Lord’s Cricket Ground (@HomeOfCricket) August 1, 2023
The tournament was nowhere near as popular as it is today back in 1993 – so much so that it was nearly cancelled due to a lack of financing, until a late donation from the International Women’s Cricket Council saved the day.
Eight teams contested the event at 25 different cricket grounds across England, before the spiritual home of the sport – Lord’s – played host to the final between the English and New Zealand.
And in a game broadcast live on that bastion of sports programming, Grandstand, England would win by 67 runs courtesy of Jan Brittin’s excellent knock of 48.
World Cup 2017 – Women’s Cricket
There were no such financial concerns when England hosted the 2017 World Cup, a tournament that just started to act as a breakthrough in popularity of women’s cricket.
England’s defence of the trophy they won in 2009 did not go according to plan four years later, so there was something of a point to prove when the tournament headed back to English soil.
And they thrived in more familiar conditions, winning six of their seven pool stage games to book their place in the semi-finals.
The semi-final game against South Africa was an all-time classic – the contest went down to the final three balls, with England just about squeezing the runs that would see them into the final against India.
And it was there that an inspired spell of bowling from Anya Shrubsole, allied to Nat Sciver’s half-century, led England’s women to yet another Cricket World Cup triumph in front of their own supporters.
World Cup 2019 – Men’s Cricket
It wouldn’t be long before English cricket had another World Cup victory to celebrate – this time the men’s team.
The 2019 edition was shared between English and Welsh stadiums, with the co-hosts looking to lift the trophy for the first time.
Despite losing three pool stage games, England still made it to the semi-finals – where old rivals Australia waited.
But memories of classic Ashes clashes were soon forgotten: Eoin Morgan’s side bowled the Aussies out for just 226, before knocking off their target with more than 17 overs to spare.
New Zealand put up considerably more resistance in the final, and after a pulsating contest ended in a tie, the World Cup would be decided by a super over.
What followed was one of the most extraordinary spectacles you are ever likely to see in any sport….the upshot being that England won in front of a packed Lord’s.
Euro 2022 – Women’s Football
Ever since Frank Skinner, David Baddiel and the Lightning Seeds’ Ian Broudie penned the patriotic anthem Three Lions, England fans have been dreaming of ‘football coming home’.
And in 2022, it finally did – after 56 years, England finally had a major trophy in the cabinet….and won it on home soil too.
The Lionesses were in rampant mood: they won all three of their group games with a goal difference of +14, before defeating Spain 2-1 after extra time courtesy of Georgia Stanway’s late goal.
Sweden were brushed aside in the semis, which left a date with destiny against Germany in the final at Wembley.
Talk about exorcising the demons. This time, it was German hearts that were broken when Chloe Kelly prodded home another injury-time winner to send most of the 87,000 crowd into ecstasy.