AS if we weren’t all emotional enough about tonight’s game, the open love letter Kate Kane wrote to husband Harry, telling him how proud she is of what he is doing for the country, brought a tear to my eye.
Kate, who met the now England captain when they were at school, recalls he had big ambition from an early age.
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In her letter, posted on Instagram, she writes to Harry: “I used to laugh at you when we started going out and you’d be round mine playing penalties with my brother Tom, and Seamus the dog, and you’d say you would be England captain one day.
“But that’s you — you set yourself a goal and achieve it and you said you were going to the Euros to get to the final”.
At that age I’m pretty sure all kids think they will grow up to be England captain. But Harry has gone and done it and at the same time created a fantastic family life for himself — he and Kate now have three young children together.
Her letter sums up everything we are all thinking about Harry at the moment but also proves that behind every great man is an even greater woman. No wonder he kisses his wedding ring every time he scores a goal.
Having been married to a footballer for 26 years, I can assure you it is nowhere near as glamorous as it’s made out to be.
Your husband is gone for long periods of time — often seven days a week, for months on end and even sometimes on Christmas Day.
They miss births, important events in the kids’ lives and in your life as a couple, because football has to come first.
They go away on international duty through the summer then are back in training in July, as the kids are breaking up for their summer holiday.
So you rarely get a summer holiday as a family.
Coronavirus has now added new pressure, meaning the England squad have been living as a bubble and cannot see their families.
As if to emphasise this point, Kate posted a socially distanced selfie of her standing about three metres away from Harry at Wembley earlier this week.
This is the closest she has got to him for weeks because he has been focused on delivering the goals which can finally bring football home.
I love that they seem to have a normal, loving relationship and are still so happy after meeting so young.
Harry says he married his “best friend” and that Kate keeps him grounded.
They are clearly close. He said: “When I feel bad about something, or when I need to get something off my chest, I can just turn to her and talk about anything.”
Silent support act
That’s the secret of a great marriage — and especially when you’re married to a professional athlete, because their stress is endless.
On a Saturday after a bad game, they seem to have the weight of the world on their shoulders.
As a partner, it is difficult to console them after a defeat.
Coping with the expectation and the pressure is immense. Best leave them alone, in my experience.
Or do what Kate does — bring them down to earth.
Harry added: “If I score a hat-trick, Kate will say, ‘Well done, you can make me a cup of tea when you get home’. ”
It’s clear she has been with him through all the ups and downs, and as a footballer there will have been plenty of those along the way.
Life is all about how to weather the storms.
She will have stood by him when he was starting out and struggling, coping with injuries or just not performing on the pitch in the way that is expected.
The criticism footballers get when not performing is off the scale, depressing, upsetting and miserable.
It is not easy being the silent support act when your other half has such an incredibly stressful job.
Could the expectation of the England team be any more enormous than it is right now?
There’s a reason for that Three Lions lyric, “Thirty years of hurt” (it’s actually been 55 now).
We’ve been singing, “It’s coming home” for many a year now but it never has — until maybe, just maybe, now.
My goodness, I hope we win tonight — yes, for all of us, but mostly for all the players’ wives, girlfriends and partners who have stood by them.
NINA IS SACK AS PARROT
LAST Wednesday must have been the best – and the worst – day of football-mad Nina Farooqi’s life.
Nina, 37, dodged work in Yorkshire after her friend won last-minute tickets in a raffle to the historic England match against Denmark.
She didn’t think her boss would give her the day off so she pulled a sickie, assuming it was unlikely she would be spotted in a crowd of more than 60,000.
But when she checked her phone at half-time, she realised her game was up.
She said: “We were all over the news, my face was on every television screen across the world.”
At which point her boss promptly sacked her.
Nina’s verdict, though, was this: “There is a bit of regret – no one wants to get fired – but then also I would have hated the regret of missing out. I’d do it all over again.”
Now that’s what I call commitment to the cause.
Love Island look is perfect for well-heeled
SEEING the photos of Margot Robbie and her pals celebrating the actress’s 31st birthday at a Love Island-themed birthday party got me thinking.
What would it be like to be the short, plump one in the group of friends? But looking at the pictures, they are all ten out of ten in every way. Which, I guess, is why their idea of a celebration is to wear nothing but bikinis and high heels.
If I looked like them, I am sure I’d be doing the same.
THE RIGHT CALL
NEWS that contraceptive pills will be sold over the counter at the chemist without a prescription for the first time will be welcome news for many women.
My view is that it is a woman’s right to do what she feels she needs to for her body.
And while I know it is an intensely personal issue, I feel that if she feels she needs to do this in a way which reduces stress quickly, it should be her prerogative to do so.
Min top shape
IT’S impossible to believe that Kylie Minogue is 53.
Looking at the photos of her wearing a semi-nude leotard on Instagram, she still has the physique, energy and vibrancy she had in her twenties.
This woman does not age.
Sexism at its worst
YOU’VE got to admire Megan Fox.
The 35-year-old actress pointed out earlier this year the totally outrageous inconsistencies in people’s responses to her dating rapper Machine Gun Kelly, who is 31.
Apparently, trolls have been quick to criticise the age gap. But, as Megan said, no one would give it a second thought if the sexes were reversed.
“He’s 31, and I’m 35 . . . No one would blink twice if George Clooney was dating someone four years younger,” she said.
Clooney, 60, has often dated younger women. One of his girlfriends was Stacy Keibler, 41, and he is now married to lawyer Amal Clooney, 43, with whom he has twins.
Megan is spot-on about this. Four years is nothing, whatever your sex. And yet, still there is the stigma of an older woman going out with a younger man, while it remains perfectly acceptable for an older man to go out with a younger woman.
Criticising women for going out with younger men is a way of controlling women and devaluing them.
The implication is that at a certain age they are less beautiful and less worthy of a man’s attention – why on earth would a man go out with an older woman?
Just look at the grief Emmanuel Macron gets at 43 for being married to a 68-year-old.
Meanwhile, Bernie Ecclestone, who is 90, has a 45-year-old wife and they have had a baby.
Here, the comments are more along the lines of “there is life in the old dog yet”.
This double standard is sexism at its worst.
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