AND so it’s almost over. By the end of today, we will know the winners of the Fifa Women’s World Cup, one of the most exciting football tournaments in many years.

For Scotland, it ended with a bitter twist, the hugely deflating last 15 minutes against Argentina which brought us back down to Earth with a dunt, in what was still a transformational and unforgettable moment in women’s football. In a country prone to male chauvinism and sneering indifference, we saw a glimmer of another way.

Nothing will quite be the same again, even although we all know that the hash-tag #NoScotlandNoParty was one in a long list of wishes that were never quite fulfilled.

By the end of the group stages there was no Scotland, but boy was there a party.

The colour pink radiated throughout the tournament, as if femininity was getting its own back on Barbie dolls and gender stereotypes. Scotland’s women wore the once-maligned pink away top with a confident modernity and, for fleeting moments in our group games against both England and Japan, there was pride and hope. Lana Clelland’s long-range goal against Japan is still a contender for the goal of the tournament. Claire Emslie and Lisa Evans’s twisting wing-play and Erin Cuthbert’s ceaseless energy are still imprinted on the mind, all young enough to take us on the next emotional rollercoaster.

They looked pretty impressive in pink. It was glorious on Scotland’s back and chic, provocative and unmistakably lesbian on Megan Rapinoe’s cropped hair. Pink may yet feature in the final, radiant like a hip-hop superstar burnished into Holland’s clumsy and rampaging skinhead winger Shanice van de Sanden, who galloped through games like a cross between Beyonce and Ted McMinn.

But the tournament’s outstanding player for so many reasons was the remarkable Rapinoe. She took time out from scoring to conduct a transatlantic war with President Donald Trump, and informed him from the outset that she would not attend a White House homecoming. Rather than move on like a diplomat, the bitter old windbag went to war. Rapinoe had by then challenged the orthodoxy of the national anthem, supporting the exiled American football star Colin Kaepernick by “taking a knee”. It was all too much for Trump. Kaepernick had launched his now infamous protest to highlight racism in American sport and society, Rapinoe has now widened the campaign to gay and lesbian rights.

The National: Megan Rapinoe has been a star of the World Cup in FranceMegan Rapinoe has been a star of the World Cup in France

Although Trump was never listening, Rapinoe has rigorously challenged the very idea that her attitude to The Star-Spangled Banner is in any way unpatriotic: “When I take a knee, I am facing the flag with my full body, staring straight into the heart of our country’s ultimate symbol of freedom – because I believe it is my responsibility, just as it is yours, to ensure that freedom is afforded to everyone in this country.” These are powerful words from a young woman as she stares belligerent power in the face.

As the tournament unfolded and Rapinoe cranked up her global stardom, ESPN’s glossy magazine ran with a story about her brother Brian, who has spent a wasted lifetime in jail as a consequence of heroin addiction. Now out of his correctional facility, and trying to rebuild a deeply battered life, the older brother and younger sister texted each other throughout the tournament. Megan admitted it was her brother’s reckless anti-authoritarian streak that first attracted her to football. A lesbian, anti-Trump activist with an addict brother – they don’t come more challenging to mainstream America than that.

Rapinoe’s importance to this World Cup tournament will be the stuff of books yet to come. So many men have gone before her as tournament stars then either faded or failed to show. Apart from Italian statisticians, who can really remember Salvatore “Toto” Schillaci’s surprising six goals in Italia 90, or the bizarre circumstances that led to Ronaldo’s insipid performance in France 98, after he had convulsions on the morning of the final? France 98 will always be synonymous with the country’s unifying multi-cultural team drawn from the simmering Banlieues of urban France, many immigrant children drawn from Africa and the Middle East.

In football, politics matters, and so it should. I tire of the lame and utterly outmoded argument that politics and sport should never mix. World Cups are meaningless and football is demeaned unless they reflect the big issues of our society; not least the very reason there is a World Cup – nationhood.

Megan Rapinoe (right) owned the tournament precisely because she refused to hide from ideology. “I think our existence in professional sports is almost a protest in and of itself in sometimes the very sexist society that we live in,” she told one journalist. “For us, it’s just kind of right in line with what we always do. In female sports, if you’re gay, most likely your team knows it pretty quickly. It’s very open and widely supported. For males, it’s not that way at all. It’s sad.”

What was even sadder was Scotland’s pitiful last 15 minutes, which saw us surrender a near unassailable 3-0 lead against Argentina and then blow it. Although women’s football and the players that succeed within it are the personification of resilience, we cannot know for sure what damage that catastrophic failure might do to the psyche of the team and its coaching staff. While many took their disappointment out on the video-refereeing system VAR, I sulked about on the web, looking for any minor slight against Scotland.

It came in all its wondrous glory, this time from an unlikely source: the normally progressive Twitter personality of the BBC’s Gary Lineker. His flippant remarks after England beat Scotland – “that’s how we like our Scots: plucky” – were masterful trolling, but it touched a raw nerve for those of us who saw a hidden truth. I can’t abide the culture and tolerance of “glorious failure”, just as I loathe being patronised by English commentators.

And so we suffered through the sentimental allegiances of Jonathan Pearce until England were knocked out, cruelly perhaps, but that is mere detail in the dark alchemy of football. For a few fleeting hours those of us who relish rivalry were treated to the delicious elixir of English tears. Oh how those familiar floodgates opened and armchair Scots rushed on to Gary Lineker’s Twitter feed – “that’s how we like our English: delusionary failures”.

Just when you thought life couldn’t get better for Scotland’s army of online cynics, along came the blundering and permanently aggrieved attention-seeker Piers Morgan. The clown-prince of petulance used a column in the Daily Mail to describe England’s vanquishers, Team USA, as “a bunch of brash, cocky, taunting prima donnas”.

His main source of grievance was not Rapinoe this time – she was sidelined with a hamstring injury – it was America’s goal-scorer Alex Morgan, who ran to the cameras to celebrate by imitating a polite English tea party, her right pinkie raised in mock pretension. It was a killer celebration, genteel and sophisticated but a masterclass in impudence, satirising England’s haughtiness and sense of entitlement.

Poor old Piers, if only he could shut up. But like his buddy in the White House he tweets away, immune to the consequences. He had not noticed that the offending tea-drinker shared his surname and so for days on end the Morgan v Morgan meme went viral. Images of Alex Morgan, stunningly beautiful with her sculpted eyebrows and obligatory pink Alice band, were juxtaposed with the belittling picture of a flabby Piers Morgan lying on a lounger like a beached whale.

It was an image that said so much about the Fifa Women’s World Cup, the summer when elegant and streetwise femininity took on the last lumbering dinosaurs of the past.

Let us celebrate their extinction. But I suspect they’ll be back.