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World Cup 2018: Your stories of how England fell back in love with football

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World Cup 2018: How England v Sweden interrupted a nation
England's World Cup run has got fans believing again and back in love with the national team, while attracting a whole new set of supporters.Generations of England fans have grown up only knowing disappointment, but Gareth Southgate's side have changed all that with their displays in Russia.They face Croatia on Wednesday in their first World Cup semi-final since 1990.
We asked you to get in touch and tell us how you were won back - or converted - to the Three Lions by the class of 2018.
'Brought a country together'
"My first memories of international football are of house parties filled with flags, finger food and football dreams," said Paige Cooper. "Our hopes were always left as soggy as the leftover sandwiches."I never fell out of love with English football but my god have I fallen deeper in love with it. No matter what happens now, they have brought together a country."Zeedan Hussain added: "This new generation, with 11 members of the squad from ethnic minorities, represents modern-day England a lot better."James Bastin said: "No matter where this crazy World Cup takes us, I am eternally thankful to the England team for the glimmer of hope they injected into all of our lives - at least home feels like home again."
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'Thank you Gareth Southgate'
"My love for England has been rekindled," said Matthew Buttree. "I've now well and truly jumped on to the hype train. Thank you Gareth Southgate for giving me back my greatest love."John Skivington said the "egotistical nature of the game" made him stop following England 10 years ago, until now.He added: "Gareth Southgate has created a team-first environment with a collective commitment to a shared vision. It's a refreshing change and, once again, enjoyable to experience as a fan.""Gareth has brought a discipline, hunger and drive to what was a tired, uninventive team no one really got excited about," said Elizabeth Money.Andy Lynam has compared Southgate to Alf Ramsey, who managed England to World Cup victory in 1966, while Russell calls him a "quintessential gentleman - a man who people can genuinely feel a connection with"."Young players, a heartfelt management style... and the 10-year-old boy [who dreamed of winning the World Cup] is alive again," said Paul.While 68-year-old Malcolm Achille added: "Thanks Gareth and the boys, you've made an old man very happy,"
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'A refreshing change'
"A well-spoken team of players and an exemplary manager who can speak openly and eloquently with the press," said Phil Spence. "A true team of gentlemen and no bad press reports; what a refreshing change.""To see a close-knit group working so hard for each other and restoring the connection to the fans and the nation is so refreshing," says Richard Brailsford.Nigel Howe: "The England team seem mostly like just ordinary guys, no huge ego or air of self-importance. No tantrums, sulks or bad behaviour on or off the field.""This team has changed everything," said Jack Levick, while Alex Sinclaire says the players have "brought the joy back" and Kevin Carroll said they "make my hair stand on end"."We have a plan, an identity and a togetherness that seems water tight," says Mark Ratheram. "Every player working for each other, not as individuals like in the past. "We seem to have the desire and mental strength to keep the ball and pass in the way football is supposed to be played. The love of England playing in the style we have shown in the World Cup has without doubt relit the fire to watch England with not only confidence but also with pride."Adrian Tutty said the team were "a breath of fresh air, youth without inhibitions who want to play for England".
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'Restored national pride'
"These set of players have played with such passion, unity and determination they have not only put pride back in the shirt but inspired me to put one on," said Martin Baily. "They have made their country proud."Brian Norris added: "Whatever happens now, these players have restored a sense of pride in English football." Nicholas Banks: "I am now hooked on the sheer excitement of this competition for the first time ever and love the team's can-do attitude. Win or lose on Wednesday, they have won me over already.""I only watch football because my husband loves it and had been put off by previous England performances," said Teresa Ward. "Gareth Southgate and his men have awakened my interest enormously."Danyal Orek added: "I am looking forward to a World Cup semi-final again, for the first time since I was 13, and am excited by a team who look so different to every England team I have watched since World Cup 1998,"I am looking forward to enjoying a football match, because whatever happens I believe again."
'Worth waking up for'
Many English expats around the world will have to wake up early or stay up late to watch the semi-final."England are worth waking up for," says Alexander Mitchel, who is based in Sydney."Getting up at 04:00 is a delight when it's to watch humility, excellence and great organisation on the football pitch. Truly restored my interest in England.""The feeling of coming home has really grasped the following in Toronto," added Callum Norris.
It's basically all come together...
[img]http://www.bbc.co.uk/data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP//yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7[/img]
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