After Leicester City’s incredible premiership victory which filled fans with pride & euphoria, the England national team could not have left their supporters feeling any more despondent. To say their Euro 2016 performance was less than satisfactory is a huge understatement.

Since I’ve lived here for most of my life, I have always supported England when they play international football (apart from when it’s against any of the Irish teams!!). So when England played Iceland in the knock out stage of Euro 2016, I was totally rooting for England and expected them to win as a formality over this tiny nation. Ohhhh boy.

England’s defeat to Iceland marks the lowest point for the national team since the 1950’s when they lost to the USA (who at that point were barely even interested in “soccer”).

To put the defeat to Iceland into some kind of perspective, Iceland has a population the size of Leicester. Their football manager is also a part-time dentist. Contrast this with the English team who had the wealthiest players in the tournament, managed by the highest paid coach. Yet England lost. Huh? So why, with England’s vast resources and the greatest premier football league in the world, could the national team have lost in such a humiliating way?

The pundits will no doubt spend weeks and months pondering over what went wrong – tactics, team quality, dressing room issues and the rest. However I think the real challenge is far more profound than any of these things. The REAL reason why England lost is because it’s leadership didn’t think they could win. This was clearly reflected in the negative way the team played. In a sense, the reason why Iceland won is because they didn’t think they had anything to lose. So the Icelanders had a cheek and audacity that was as inspiring as it was admirable. You see…winning and losing is all in the mind.

It was very telling that the England manager read out his resignation statement in the immediate moments after his team’s defeat. Hang on…when did he prepare this statement? Was he writing it during the match? Truth is, he EXPECTED his team to lose and he had totally prepared for it, hence the pre-written statement. This negative & defeatist vibe had no doubt been unwittingly created among the players too. This undoubtedly reflects a wider cultural flaw in the FA leadership, the default setting of which would need to be reset. No-matter how much resource there is, culture means everything. Culture is ultimately created by what we REALLY believe.

You couldn’t but feel sorry for the now ex-manager during the press interview the following day. He really did look a defeated man whose one relief was that it was finally all over.

How we think totally matters. The car manufacturer Henry Ford once said ‘Think you can or think you can’t, either way you’re right’. He was right. As Christians, the bible encourages us not to be conformed to defeatist cultural patterns but to be ‘transformed by the renewing of our minds’. In other words, God does not want our thinking to be shaped by the negatives of this world but by the positives of HIS word.

Winning starts in the mind. As Christians, this should be our default mindset. Our faith begins in the knowledge that Jesus has won. This started on a mountain called Calvary and culminated with THE most incredible event in history…the resurrection.

When we develop a winning mindset, it puts life in perspective, even the complexities. Our words will ultimately reflect what our mind believes, especially in moments of pressure. So be sure to think like a winner. You have nothing to lose.

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