Patriotic hubris and old footballing rivalries are harder to sustain in a world becoming more closely connected
If Jamal Musiala gets to play at Wembley on Tuesday in the Euro 2020 knockout match between England and Germany, he might need to occasionally glance down to remind himself which shirt he is wearing. The wiry Bayern Munich midfielder, who played the crucial pass that set up Germany’s equaliser in a tetchy 2-2 draw against Hungary last Wednesday, has only made four appearances for his country’s senior side. But between 2016 and 2020, Musiala played 25 games for the national youth teams of Tuesday’s opponents, England.
Aged 18, the Stuttgart-born holder of a British and a German passport is the youngest player to represent Germany since Uwe Seeler, the captain in the famous World Cup final defeat to England in 1966. Musiala is too young to have experienced how politics and sport have overlapped when the two sides met in the past: he wasn’t even born when pictures of Paul Gascoigne and Stuart Pearce, Photoshopped to look like second world war soldiers, were published in the Daily Mirror in 1996 alongside the headline “Achtung! Surrender”.