Rude awakening on big day
- 10 Jun 06, 08:21 AM
FRANKFURT - What is the first sight you like to gaze upon when you pull back the curtains in the morning?
Well maybe we won't actually pursue that one too far, but for me at my hotel in Frankfurt I was greeted by the faces of Michael Ballack, Kaka and Lionel Messi.
Not a nightmare about the biggest threats to England's footballing ambitions, but a giant signal that World Cup fever has now officially taken hold and the big day has finally arrived for Sven-Goran Eriksson's side.
Those three stars adorn a giant high-rise office building just yards from my bedroom window. A swift reminder that at last we have some football to be played.
Once again Eriksson was in amazingly good form at his press conference, with a nice line in humour - black humour as well when he was asked "would he like an honorary knighthood if England win the World Cup?".
"I hope to leave the job alive" was his response.
Frankfurt is certainly putting on a show for the World Cup, with a giant screen placed in the middle of the river, with seating on the banks, for those who want to watch the matches.
And a part of the city centre was taken over with a giant party for all supporters last night, complete with rock band, stalls serving every dish imaginable and a South American cocktail bar serving up concoctions that were probably best avoided.
The serious business got under way earlier, and the feeling among the world's media was that England would have been heartened by the early skirmishes.
Germany looked vulnerable at the back, while neither Poland nor Ecuador looked special - although the cheering from some sections when Costa Rica scored was unsporting in the light of the hosts being so generous.
So now it is up to England.
We've followed every step of the build-up. How are you feeling? Can they back up the talk with results?
Off to the stadium.