Green Point Stadium, Cape Town, Friday 18th June 2010.
With their heads still in the clouds after the 1 V 1 draw against USA, surely this match would see Alan Smith's rallying call, "Seize the day Wayne and win over the World!" come to fruition.
As is 'normal' in all of the England pre match preparations, Fabio Capello was reeling off Tommy Cooper jokes about how England will still win the World Cup. Tommy Cooper joked;
- "In the second half of our first game, we finished better than the US and were able to run a lot. This usually happens with us as the other teams suffer because of the running. For this reason I'm really relaxed about this game."
Everybody in the England dressing smiled, but Tommy Cooper wanted a big laugh so as usual he made an even greater joke to get it;
- "England have not failed to score in their group since 2002 against Nigeria. So today this will probably be a 0 V 0 bore draw. I'm ringing up the Tommy Cooper Capello Index straight away."
Everybody in the England dressing was rocking and laughing and on their mobiles too, getting their wagers on!!
I had been imbedded into the World Cup England footballing set up for weeks and as an on the spot reporter in this 2010 World Cup combat, there was no doubt about the very high positive energy in the England camp that we were going to be crowned winners of the 2010 World Cup!
Tommy Cooper's plans for the game meant that Barry's return from an ankle lay-off is well-timed, but whether Barry is fully-fit remains open to debate, with the Manchester City midfielder sidelined for six weeks with damaged ankle ligaments. Tommy Cooper faced a big decisions on his goalkeeper and a partner for Wayne Rooney. Ledley King's knee injury rules him out.
Tommy Cooper's inspirational tactical team talk before the Algerain match was a joy to behold;
"Lads, FIFA are running a competition this evening, 'Fancy winning the actual ball used at kick-off of the England-Algeria game?' Well one of you stand outside the stadium as Emile Heskey's about to attempt a half-volley!"
Everybody in the changing room laughed to their high horses, even Heskey. We were all stil laughing at the joke over cups of tea in the England team dugout during the singing of the English and Algerian National Anthems. As standard protocal, the Tommy Capello-Cooper motivation tool was stuck up around the England dugout;
"Tommy Cooper was introduced to the Queen after a Royal Command Performance.
- 'Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?' said Tommy.
'No, ..." said the Queen, '....but I might not be able to give you a full answer.'
'Do you like football?' said Tommy.
'Well not really ' said the Queen.'
'In that case, ...' said Tommy, '....do you mind if I have your Cup Final Tickets?'
Fabio Capello has that on his wall at home, in all of his cars and in the England team bus!!
The match official blew his whistle and England's World Cup victory was again under away. Rooney's playing up with Heskey, rather than behind him in a 4-2-3-1. Cole weaves down the left and is brought down. Gerrard swings the free-kick in. Heskey gets a head on it, but not goalwards. Then Gerrard tries what looks like a cross, but ends up almost sailing in over Rais M'Bolhi's head (Algerian Goal Keeper). Then Gerrard blasts again, but this time higher than Hell from 20 yards. After a while, Gerrard tries to pick out... actually, I'm not sure who he was trying to pick out there. A shocking pass. Worrying times for England. England are absolutely nowhere around the edge of their area. So far, Gerrard's pass completion is 43 per cent. You'd never guess. Better from England! Gerrard and Rooney team up for the first time since their game of darts last night, and Gerrard can let fly a shot that bounces awkwardly in front of M'Bolhi. The World Cup victory is nearly there!!
As the tension mounted, Tommy Cooper's reaction was to crack another joke;
- "There once was a Keeper named Green, Who fumbled a save quite routine. Capello was hot, "I keeper him not!" Now Green is an England has-been."
England working up a little head of steam here. Rooney tries a cute one-two with Lampard, but Lampard's return ball sails out of play. Only a little head of steam. Best chance of the game for England! Much more like it as Lennon gets some space down the right and picks out Lampard. A left-footed shot comes in, M'Bolhi gets down and saves. Barry with a near-suicidal back-pass at about 40 mph. An alarmed James controls it on his chest.
Tommy Cooper shouts out another wise crack;
- "This match has definitely got 0 V 0 written all over it! Where is my mobile I want to get some more money on!!"
Everybody in the England dugout burst out laughing at Tommy Coopers joke, at the same moment on the pitch, Rooney is felled but gets up with the ball. Lampard tries to find Lennon with an incisive through ball, but a last-ditch tackle stops him. Bougherra clears, and again Gerrard stikes with another umpteenth atrocious shot.
Tommy Cooper shouted out another joke;
- "Some lucky car park attendant will have caught that one."
At half time England 0-0 Algeria, Tommy Cooper hands in pockets, trudges resignedly down the tunnel and laid the jokes straight to the players;
"That was awful. Absolute pies. I couldn't even hear any boos from the England fans!! What is up with you all? I've been listening to this match on Radio Five Live. They sound so upset, like England have been thrashed 10-nil. From what I have heard Algeria are nowhere near scoring and England have been close a couple of times, with Gerrard hitting a lucky car park attendant outside the ground! Have a cup of tea and forget about!!"
As always with Tommy Cooper, the England players spirits rose and they had an even greater laugh about it. In the second half, England played like a team that have never met, Rooney's had one of his worst games in an England shirt!!
From all round the world, the plaudits for Tommy Cooper's England came flooding in!
Listening in Iceland (it's a domestic arrangement), even the Norwegians were laughing at Tommy Cooper's England!
"This is the first time I've ever bothered to stay up late to watch an Tommy Cooper's England match (it's 3.30am here in Beijing), I don't think I'll bother again... and will go to sleep now. Mind you don't have nightmares!"
Watching in France, the French commentator on terresterial Frog TV just asked if Capello's Tommy Cooper and Domenech (French Manager) went to the same coaching school!"
"Watching here in Broussard, Louisiana USA trying to explain the comedy of errors to my American friends. Tommy Cooper's England look like a shoddy Sunday league team!"
"Watching live from Japan. 4am here. My wife (who is Japanese and does not understand football) just asked 'why do Tommy Cooper's England keep giving the ball to the team in the green? Anyone have an answer for her?"
From Germany comes another accolade for Tommy Cooper's England team, "Franz Beckenbauer was right, wasn't he? Kick and rush, like in the 60s. No fantasy! No ideas!" I wouldn't bring up the 60s if I were you..."
Wayne Rooney after the match: "Nice to see your home fans booing you."
Tommy Cooper at the England debrief press conference afterwards;
- "We play not good game. We miss a lot of goals. Easy passes. We have to play another game. We hope will be happy. I don't know if pressure or not good moment, but I think was not good game. We lose too many passes. You say pressure. Probably. I don't like to speak about players. I think it's the team that didn't play the spirit that I like. I can change, I will try to do something different. I spoke with the players. They know what they have to do.!!"
Tommy Cooper to players after the match;
- "We have reasons to be cheerful, Firstly we could have lost, secondly there is always a next time and finally there is France! Cheer up and have a cup of tea!!"
That is why Tommy Cooper is a genius with the England players!