IS Scotland having an outbreak of affection for this England team at the European Championships? Do we need to see our GPs about this?

“What seems to be the problem?”

“I think I might want England to win this thing, doctor.”

“Are you experiencing any discomfort or other troubling symptoms?”

“I cheered when Harry Kane scored the opener against Ukraine and I almost tweeted congratulations to Gareth Southgate afterwards.”

“I’m going to prescribe the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph. Take one of each every day for the next week – preferably before you’ve eaten – and you should see the symptoms recede.”

England are proficient at finding exciting new ways of exiting major football tournaments. They blow two-goal leads; they have players sent off for acts of gross stupidity and they can’t seem to find the net from 12 yards with only the goalkeeper standing in the way.

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Smaller and much less fancied nations such as Sweden, Iceland and Ireland feed off the hubris and entitlement that swirl around England like Saturn’s rings and use them to administer a right good spanking.

Tonight only Denmark stand between England and their first major final since 1966. I say “only Denmark” which is perhaps proof in itself of what can happen if you pay too much attention to English football journalists.

Denmark have actually won this tournament, and in the years that have elapsed since 1966 have produced several teams that have been classier and more elegant than anything England – with its far greater resources – have been able to fashion. The Danes, inspired by the distressing loss of their star player Christian Eriksen (below), have blossomed into a very fine team as this tournament has progressed.

The National: Denmark’s Christian Eriksen is undergoing tests in hospital following his collapse

In the last 55 years, 13 other European nations have reached the final of a proper football tournament. England haven’t. But they won’t have a better chance than this year. In front of 60,000 of their own supporters at Wembley, they should beat Denmark and take their place in the final.

England have a good, young, vibrant team bristling with players who may reasonably be termed “world-class”. Certainly, they’ve had good teams in the past, but this one – unlike their forebears – do not seem burdened with a propensity to believe their own hype. This owes much to their coach, Gareth Southgate, a man whose every utterance is a rebuke to the braying spirit of Brexit that has come to possess England.

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Southgate talks about hard work and respect and is never boastful. He never disdains his opponents and remains calm under the adolescent inquiries that come at him regularly from the English press. He praised Scotland for their performance in our 0-0 victory over them at Wembley. You would buy this man a drink and genuinely want good things for him.

No other England coach has ever elicited such feelings. Well, maybe Terry Venables, who always seemed like one of those friendly London cab drivers who would direct you to the Dog and Duck and tell you to say that Tel had sent you, and that this would automatically entitle you to a free pint.

Sometimes you felt sorry for those foreign coaches England have hired in desperation. There was one facial expression they all came to share: this was when it dawned on them that the players were not as remotely good as they’d thought and that they must find a way of concealing this from the press before they could take the money and flee.

The National: Marcus Rashford in training

More importantly, Southgate seems to have imbued his young charges with his values as a human being. Perhaps that’s unfair on players like Marcus Rashford (above) and Raheem Sterling, who have long exhibited grace under pressure and abuse. Sterling has spoken with heartfelt eloquence about racism in English and European football, while Rashford has used his fame to highlight the inequality faced by disadvantaged communities in his campaign for free school meals. He has landed more blows on Boris Johnson’s seedy government than Sir Keir Starmer.

Social media has also highlighted how few of this multi-racial, multi-cultural England team would have come to represent their country if Priti Patel’s insidious anti-immigration policies had been in operation a generation ago.

By virtue of their employment in the richest sporting theatre in the world, the value of English footballers has always been vastly over-inflated. Last month, Manchester United paid Borussia Dortmund £75 million for Jadon Sancho. Harry Maguire has never quite convinced that he merited the £80m Manchester United paid for him two years ago. Yet these players can’t be blamed for this.

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At least these players have earned their fortunes by maximising talent with actual hard work and dedication. The normal pattern for children from similar backgrounds travels in the opposite direction. Millions with gifts in other disciplines are denied the opportunity to contribute and to make something of themselves by a class system that always tilts the playing field in favour of birth and influence.

Earlier this week, the Sutton Trust highlighted how truly representative of the country the English national football team is. The trust, a charity that campaigns for increased social mobility, tweeted: “Compared to other sports, football is much more representative of the UK population, with only 8% of the England Euro 2020 squad having attended independent schools. For men’s rugby internationals, this figure is 37% and for cricket it’s even higher, at 43%.”

Yet many of these young men representing England at Euro 2020 have been intelligent and wise representatives of state schooling. Often, they’ve been more eloquent than the privileged products of the private school sector which dominate politics, the media, culture and sport across the UK. Only around 7% of the UK population attend fee-paying institutions. Yet the political influence and money this very small and privileged body of people come to possess is grossly disproportionate to their actual ability. If Britain truly was a nation based on fairness and equality, the top positions in society would follow a social pattern similar to that of the England national football team.

I sincerely hope Southgate and Rashford and Sterling and Kane do the business for England tonight and go on to become European champions on Sunday night. Post-Covid, this country is entering a long journey into its own heart of darkness, propelled there by a gangster government where the worst of England’s independent schools output have found favour.

Those who don’t have much now will have even less as they are made to bear the consequences of the pandemic. It may be that an England triumph at Euro 2020 will be their only light in the years ahead.