While the UEFA Nations League was created with the intention of eventually getting rid of international friendlies, mainly because they’re completely unnecessary, it hasn’t really worked out all too well up to this point.
Case in point: England and Wales battled one another last night at Wembley in a game that was contested for, well, pretty much no other reason than the managers thought it would be a good idea.
If you’re English then the end result was quite pleasing as the Three Lions ran out 3-0 winners over the Welsh who, let’s not forget, managed to reach the semi-finals of UEFA Euro 2016 four years ago.
For the first time since 1963, three different England players scored their first international goal in the same game. Dominic Calvert-Lewin started things off in the first half and it was Danny Ings who wound up putting the final nail in the coffin, but in between, we saw one of the most joyous football moments of the year as Conor Coady scored his first England goal in just his second appearance.
He was also given the captain’s armband late in the game but the real story is the goal, given the fact that he rarely crosses the halfway line whenever he plays for club side Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Coady spoke about the elation he felt in the immediate aftermath of what can only be described as a fantastic moment for the popular Scouser.
“You saw on my face the feeling and emotions I was going through.
“The set-piece coach asked me if I had scored for Wolves and I said not in a long time. He said we will try to change that.
“I cannot speak highly enough of what the lads have done for me – it’s absolutely incredible and absolutely brilliant to have players like this representing our country.”
While Conor Coady on his own isn’t going to be the catalyst behind fans getting excited about England again, this is precisely the sort of passion and heart we need to be seeing on the international stage.
Gareth Southgate may have been able to lead England to the semi-finals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup but the landscape of football changes from day to day. He needs to start finding even more success, to the point where England are actively competing to win a trophy.
They may not be the favorites to take over from Portugal as European champions but they don’t really need to be. They’ll be more than happy to fly under the radar so long as it means building a cohesive team unit.
Above all else, though, despite this game being quite pointless, some positives definitely came out of it for a handful of players. The Euros are going to be creeping up on us before we know it and it’s vitally important that we start to figure out what our best starting XI looks like.
The debate regarding whether or not they should go with three at the back or four is an important one, but in reality, all we should be doing now is praising the most likeable man in football – Conor Coady.