Leading article: Farewell, England

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The Independent Online

The World Cup: we could always take it or leave it - really, honestly. Were we bothered? Triumph; disaster: we knew that they were merely impostors.

For us, it was always the taking part that mattered; the chance for one of Britain's national teams to be involved in an international festival of sporting excellence.

We understand Sven-Goran Eriksson's reasons for declaring that "to win the World Cup I'm prepared to do whatever it takes". (It was a misguided attempt to get himself into the Bill Shankly book of football quotations.) But for us, the World Cup has been an opportunity to admire the beautiful, flowing football practised by non-British nationals.

Above all, the tournament has been a chance to achieve a higher state of inner calm, usually by considering deeply such subjects as the rightness of stadium roofs, the psychological torture of the penalty shoot-out and the arbitrariness of sport, life, nit-picking Argentinian referees and everything.

This is not a quickly achieved state of enhanced consciousness, and we are, we suppose, grateful to the England team for providing such an extended opportunity for considering the real meaning of a no-win situation.

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