Pools legend Keith Nobbs is in Holland supporting his daughter Jordan as she and he England team-mates prepare to take on the host nation in the semi-final of the European Championships.
Keith made the trip out to the Netherlands to catch the final two group games that England Women played and he now plans to stay out there until the end of the tournament – and hopefully witness a Lionesses’ triumph.
England are currently the highest-ranked team left in the European Championships following the surprise quarter-final exit of Germany and there is huge confidence in the camp that they can go all the way.
We caught up with Keith to find out how it’s been over there so far and he gave us this update…
It’s been an amazing experience over in Holland so far.
I travelled to Tilburg first to catch the group game against Portugal, then on to Deventer for the quarter-final against France and now we’re in Utrecht awaiting the semi-final against Holland on Thursday night.
I have actually managed to get in to a hotel right next door to where Jordan and the England team are staying. It’s where they’ve stayed for the whole tournament and the hotel is kitted out with England decoration in the rooms and on the windows – they even have Euro 2017 floor mats down in the hotel gym.
The atmosphere at the games so far has been incredible and I’ve got right in to it when the National Anthem is being played – in fact, I spotted a photo where I am belting it out at the top of my voice right in the middle of the crowd before the France game!
It is going to be fantastic to be at the game on Thursday night. The stadium they’re playing at is the home of FC Twente, has a capacity of over 30,000 and I believe it’s completely sold out. It should be a great occasion for all concerned.
I am so excited for Jordan and the rest of the girls, I can’t wait to see them out on the pitch. And I think they have a cracking chance to beat Holland and get through to the Final. I have followed England Women all over for a few years now but this is the best chance they have had since I started watching. They all work hard for each other, don’t give in and their attitude and commitment is spot on.
They have been working hard towards this tournament for the last two years and they’ve made progress all the time, on their fitness in particular. When I speak to Jordan, she reckons the squad’s fitness is up 20% across the board on what it has been in previous years. They have had an eight-week camp building up to the Euros where they played games together and become more of a unit so they couldn’t really have had better preparation.
I got a lovely photo with Jordan earlier in the week wearing my England shirt. I asked her what name I should get on the back and it was Jordan’s idea for me to get ‘Pappa Nobbs’! I will be wearing that again for the game against Holland and it will be nice because all of the players’ families are travelling to the game on a bus together.
Actually, some fans spotted me wearing the ‘Pappa Nobbs’ shirt on the way to the last game so they came up and talked to me. It turned out they were Arsenal supporters – that’s where Jordan plays her club football and the young girl said that Jordan was her favourite player. They got a photo with me and put it on Twitter – and then the next thing I heard, Jordan had seen it on there, got in touch and organised to send the girl one of her signed England shirts! A nice touch, I obviously brought her up well!
It’s been good to have some time chatting with Jordan (or ‘Girlie’ as I call her!) but all we talk about really is football! I tell her to shoot all the time because she’s got such a good strike – she’s scored from 35 and 40 yards before I just tell to offload whenever she gets a chance!
She scored a cracking goal against Scotland in the first game – a volley which was so good technically to watch it coming out of the air and hitting it so sweetly. I just hope she gets a chance against Holland and it flies in to the net.
There is just real excitement now. I don’t think Jordan or any of the girls are feeling any nerves, they’re just so full of belief. They know there is going to be a big home crowd for the game but they’ve experienced that before in big games – they’re all big game players. In Canada a few years ago there was a passionate home crowd but it didn’t faze them, in fact it inspired them and I am sure that will happen again tonight. It wouldn’t surprise me if they got an early goal and went on to win very well.
My dream would be for Jordan to score the winning goal but I will be singing and shouting himself hoarse whatever happens. I even got some of those inflatable clapper things.
I’ve loved my time in Holland and I’ve done a bit of exploring in the last couple of days. Jordan had a bike but she’s lent it to me so I can do some looking around so I cycled up to the De Haar Castle and had a look around – and it’s certainly quicker when you need to go to the shop!
Anyway, I’m off to prepare for the game. I am so excited to hear that National Anthem playing and I know it means the world to Jordan and the team to have the whole country behind them back at home.
I hope all the Pools fans are watching and backing the Lionesses because I think they’re going to make us all proud.
Come on England!