Ahead of the World Cup England fans and players were warned of all sorts of dangers awaiting them in Russia, but one amusing incident involving midfield star Dele Alli has summed up just how misplaced those notions were.
England are preparing for their first World Cup semi-final since 1990, and the Three Lions seemed to have the backing of one family who interrupted an interview Alli was giving to Sky Sports near the team’s Repino training base at the weekend.
As the England midfielder was walking along the street answering a question about the team’s preparations for their semi-final against Croatia, a group of fans drove past filming the star, and also gave a burst of the strains of ‘God Save the Queen’ – much to the amusement of Alli and Sky Sports presenter Rob Dorsett.
When the Russian fans start playing God Save The Queen at England players then you KNOW that it's coming home. 😲 pic.twitter.com/0B3XAmfDH6— Soccer AM (@SoccerAM) July 9, 2018
One fan then leaned out of the window to shake the 22-year-old Tottenham star’s hand.
“Look at that… the Russian people have taken you to their hearts,” Dorsett is heard exclaiming.
“Yeah, the tournament’s been unbelievable,” Alli says in response.
The moment was indicative of the warm welcome England have received in Russia at their training base near St. Petersburg as well as in the four host cities they’ve played in so far.
Manager Gareth Southgate has spoken of the “fantastic infrastructure and great facilities” at the World Cup, saying the Three Lions have been “taken care of in Russia.”
It’s a far cry from the supposed dangers that the team were warned of by the UK press ahead of their arrival in Russia, which ranged from potential drugging to targeting by Kremlin-backed ‘honey traps’.
Alli was on target in the team’s 2-0 win against Sweden in the quarter-finals, which booked the Three Lions a meeting with a Croatia team that overcame Russia on penalties in their last eight encounter.
England and Croatia meet at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on Wednesday.