‘Forget Jude Bellingham – one other younger lion is making England historical past at Euros’

Forget Jude Bellingham. Because it feels like Kobbie Mainoo is making all the history here at Euro 2024.

Nine months ago, few people outside of Manchester United knew who he was. Fast forward to now and everyone in world football is aware of him.

And his meteoric rise to the top scaled new heights last night when he was named in Gareth Southgate ‘s starting XI for the semi final against Holland. Because it made the teenager the youngest Three Lion to start a major tournament semi final for England, aged just 19 years and 82 days.

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England fans don’t have a great relationship with foreign police, it has to be said.

Decades of violence and fighting during tournaments have seen to this. But in a (very, very) rare moment of joviality, one local policeman in Dortmund saw the funny side when he became a figure of fun to England supporters.

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Kobbie Mainoo of England enters as team-mate Jude Bellingham leaves the field
Kobbie Mainoo of England enters as team-mate Jude Bellingham leaves the field

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The problem was the officer in question was a doppelgänger for England boss Gareth Southgate. This was seized upon – and all he could do was smile.

Hardy souls are the Dutch fans. Those who made the short trip over the border to Dortmund appeared to have got one up on their rivals, after commandeering the famous ‘Yellow Wall’ end Dortmund supporters have made famous.

That move didn’t feel so clever though, when a biblical storm an hour before kick off left them drenched to the skin. But it didn’t bother them one bit.

Maybe some of them have been to Old Trafford before – and are used to it.

Gareth Southgate has a doppelganger police officer
Gareth Southgate has a doppelganger police officer

You can’t ignore it, no matter how much you want to.

Because trouble never seems to stop following England fans around. Five of them were left injured after a series of clashes with Dutch hooligans hours before kick off.

The violence took place outside the ‘Sausalitos bar on Kleppingstrasse. UK Police had warned travelling England supporters of the huge Dutch presence in Dortmund – and to seek areas where there were German Police. Warnings that went unheeded.

Lamine Yamal of Spain celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the UEFA EURO 2024 Semi-Final match between Spain and France at Munich Football Arena on July 09, 2024 in Munich, Germany.
Spain will be hoping Lamine Yamal can show some brilliance against England

Lamine Yamal isn’t the only star of Euro 2024 to be celebrating his birthday on Saturday.

Yamal will turn 17, yes 17, on the same day as England defender Marc Guehi. Guehi, who will be 24, might have to put his celebrations on hold if England make it to the final.

He will be presented with a cake by the rest of the squad, but he’ll be hoping his best present is still to come 24 hours later in Berlin.