Despite England being perennial under achievers in world football, the expat community was still optimistic about England being successful at Euro 2012. 

The definition of success for the England football team is normally reaching a semi-final. For the two favourites, Spain and Germany, nothing less than winning the tournament outright would do.

The expat community recognised that England were unlikely to go further in the tournament than Spain or Germany, but were optimistic enough to rate England's chances much higher than the likes of Holland, Italy and France. Sadly, it was to be another quarter-final defeat and another on penalties. Also, England's failure to beat any of the major footballing powers in the knockout stage of an overseas tournament remains. 

England, in truth, went into the 2012 tournament in Poland and Ukraine with arguably its weakest squad ever for a major finals. That Roy Hodgson's side reached the quarter-finals, in a group containing France, hosts Ukraine, and traditionally difficult opponents Sweden, was no mean feat.

In the quarter-finals, England were up against an Italy side also considered one of that country's weakest ever teams. Guided by the majestic Andrea Pirlo, Italy embarrassed an English side without imagination or flair. At least Hodgson's reputation for producing teams with a strong defence was in evidence, as England somehow survived both the full 90 minutes and extra-time without conceding a goal. 

England's spirit wasn't in doubt, but, in terms of footballing ability, England seem way behind even an Italy side that Spain toyed with in the Kiev final. Wayne Rooney's lack of match fitness did hamper England, but the Three Lions do seem too reliant on one man in providing a creative spark.

England's football team can cheer up expats - especially if they live in a community where support for other strong footballing nations is in evidence. After England's performance against Italy, it'd be understandable for an expat to feel a sense of embarrassment. Yes, expectations weren't that high, but England were made to look second rate.

Negativity over the England football team can bring about more of a focus on negative aspects of one's country as a whole. Because the football team ultimately disappointed, thoughts about England's financial woes may come more readily to the surface. Spain have even worse financial problems than the UK, but at least Spaniards could concentrate on something more uplifting for a brief moment in time.


James Christie writes for Now Health who provide health insurance for expats.