A last-minute winner no doubt helped, but England’s day out in Volgograd passed without major incident, with visiting fans praising a particularly warm reception from their hosts.
James Lockett, 43, told The Independent that he had been unprepared for the respectful welcome he received in the city formerly known as Stalingrad, calling everyone “nothing but friendly”. He said he was motivated to learn a lot about the city in return. He planned to visit the city’s memorial complex to the victims of the fight to liberate Stalingrad, the Second World War’s bloodiest battle.
Some of the English fans in Volgograd recalled the events in Marseilles in 2016 first hand. Ernie Bradshaw, a golden toothed, golden tanned gentleman from East London, smiled as he confirmed he was “close to the action” that day. But he said that what happened in France was “history.” He had nothing but praise for his Russian hosts, who were “lovely people”. The greatest game you can win is won within. Welcome to Russia.