When 300,000 welcomed England World Cup heroes back to Luton

There was total apathy when England’s World Cup flops landed at Luton Airport on Wednesday.
Fans in Upper George Street, Luton, for England's paradeFans in Upper George Street, Luton, for England's parade
Fans in Upper George Street, Luton, for England's parade

The welcoming party for the hapless footballers after their journey from Brazil – via Manchester Airport, where some of the players disembarked – consisted of three supporters. And one of them was Italian!

The squad returned to this country halfway through the tournament after finishing bottom of their group with just one point.

It was in stark contrast to the scene 24 years ago when an estimated 300,000 supporters thronged Luton Airport and the town’s streets to salute the England players after Italia 90.

The team had reached the World Cup semi-finals before being knocked out on penalties by West Germany.

On a hot, sunny day, they paraded through Luton on an open-top bus on their way to the Chiltern Hotel in Waller Avenue, where they stayed before and after the tournament.

The star attraction was Paul ‘Gazza’ Gascoigne, who appeared on the bus wearing a pair of fake breasts.

At Luton Airport last week, the players, led by manager Roy Hodgson and Football Association chairman Greg Dyke, landed at a private terminal.

Dyke warmly shook Hodgson’s hand on the tarmac as they arrived back home after offering repeated assurances that the manager would still be in his job for the 2016 European Championships.