BIBLE HILL, N.S. – The last time England won the World Cup was in 1966, the same year Raj Makkar was born in the country he still so passionately supports.
Fifty-two years on, he was bedecked in his England scarf and Three Lions top to watch Gareth Southgate’s boys play a nail-biting semi-final match against Croatia in Moscow, together with his son Vijay at their home in Bible Hill.
Sadly, it was not to be – as Croatia won 2-1 despite a valiant effort from England.
“I’m definitely heartbroken. They were so close, no one expected England to get so far and now they have, you just want them to keep going,” said Makkar. “I’m not going to stop believing. If you’re a fan of a team you don’t give up – you keep hoping that it will happen one day.”
After a close-run match that saw an early England goal, followed by wavering fortunes and two goals from Croatia, the best England can hope for is the third-place playoffs.
However, England’s semi-final showing was their best World Cup result in 28 years.
England’s Russia 2018 success comes after a generation of disappointment. The team has not won an international tournament since 1966 and the last time they made it to a World Cup semi-final was in 1990.
While previous players such as Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen were over-hyped, Makkar and millions of other England fans feel a fresh hope as a new generation of sportsmen come to the fore in Russia 2018.
“I’ve just got a feeling about this team. They don’t have anything to lose,” said Makkar before the game. “You’re literally seeing a changing of the guard and it’s incredible.”
Despite their loss to Croatia, Makkar still has a positive feeling about his team, as with their current form they have every chance of winning the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
“I’d say you guys have nothing to hold your heads down about. You played your hearts out and what you achieved in this world cup was amazing,” said Makkar. “I didn’t expect them to get to the semis.”
However, Makkar’s immigrant background mirrors that of some England players, such as Jamaican-born Raheem Sterling.
He was born to Indian parents in London and emigrated to Canada with his family at age five, where they settled in Nova Scotia after his father was offered a teaching job.
At the time, Canada experienced a massive influx of immigrants from both the United Kingdom and India as then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau promoted a policy of multiculturalism.
His childhood memories of England were vague, but he recalled a country that was both “busy and beautiful.”
In the years since, Makkar has returned to visit the land of his birth – finding it even more busy and crowded than ever.
“A part of my heart belongs there,” said Makkar.