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NIZHNY NOVGOROD, Russia (AP) — Apparently, the England soccer team is described in China as one of those who play “happy football.” It’s not meant as a compliment.

At the World Cup, a Chinese reporter revealed to England coach Gareth Southgate that the term coined on Chinese social media — and best translated as “happy football” — is in fact used to describe teams or players that make “ridiculous mistakes.”

England’s history at major soccer tournaments is well-known. A series of dramatic failures, often through penalty shootouts, has meant the country that gave football to the world hasn’t managed to add to its one World Cup title in 1966.

Southgate, as he pointed out himself, is “one of the most guilty” when it comes to English calamities. He missed the penalty that saw England eliminated on home soil in the semifinals of the 1996 European Championship.

But Southgate said Saturday that despite decades of failures, “history is not the most important thing” for his young team.


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