Desert Outtakes: Bargain England World Cup winners T-shirts for sale

Pepe’s broken bones and bias, high jumping and anger at referees

Shirts for sale

A company based in Dorset was so confident of Gareth Southgate’s England team getting the job done in Qatar that they bought 18,000 T-shirts with the message: “England, World Cup winners 2022, it’s finally home” printed across them. Well they didn’t age too well after England’s 2-1 quarter-final defeat to France, and subsequent exit from the competition.

I’m not sure if something can be done with just the words “England” and “home” - but as things stand the company say they are facing a “major loss”.

Karl Baxter, the managing director of Poole-based Wholesale Clearance UK told English media, “I have been really impressed with England’s performance in Qatar and was sure they would win this year’s tournament. When approached by a supplier to sell the shirts, I simply couldn’t say no.”

Don’t worry it gets better... “I’d like to appeal to England fans to purchase one of the shirts, to keep it as a piece of history and a reminder of how well our team played throughout the tournament. While they haven’t won, they are still winners in my eyes.”


Since receiving confirmation that England will not be World Cup winners 2022, they’ve dropped the price of the T-shirts from £29.99 down to £9.99. What a deal.

Broken bones and bias

Portgual centre back Pepe played on with a broken arm during his team’s shock World Cup defeat to Morocco. The 39-year-old Porto defender was informed of a fracture to his left arm following a visit to hospital in Doha after complaining about the injury following the match. The veteran led his team out as captain, wearing the armband with Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench, and he even almost grabbed a late equaliser with a back post bullet header going narrowly wide.

But neither the pain of defeat nor of a broken bone could stop the Brazilian born three-time Champions League winner from speaking his mind in the aftermath.

Lashing out at Argentinian referee Facundo Tello, Pepe suggested the official was showing bias to Morocco as Portugal’s exit would help Argentina’s chances.

“We had the ability to win this World Cup,” he told journalists. “Then we had the feeling of the arrogance of the arbitration team. Argentina will be champion. There were five Argentine referees! What more can I say? Let’s see what happens.

“It’s unacceptable for an Argentine referee to referee our game. After what happened yesterday, with Messi talking, all of Argentina talking and the referee comes here to blow the whistle. I’m not saying that he comes here conditioned... but what did we play the second half?”

In numbers

9ft 1in - That’s the height Morocco striker Youssef En-Nesyri jumped to when heading in the winning goal during his team’s famous last-eight victory over Portgual. That’s eight inches higher than Cristiano Ronaldo rose to - the two players are the same height - for his iconic headed goal for Juventus against Sampdoria in 2019.

In words

“He certainly didn’t perform how you would expect a ref at that level to perform. It wasn’t the level of a referee in a World Cup quarter-final.”

—  They don't normally go in on one of their own but former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher was not at all impressed with the performance of Wilton Pereira Sampaio, who took charge of England's World Cup quarter-final defeat to France.

Dave is coming home

Football isn’t coming home, but Dave the cat is.

There’s been a fair amount of talk about cats at this World Cup; for starters, the stray cat that was grabbed and tossed off a table by the Brazilian press officer in front of a room full of journalists, but’s it’s not all been bad news for the stray cats of Qatar.

England defenders Kyle Walker and John Stones made a feline friend at the team’s Al-Wakrah hotel earlier in the tournament and, according to reports in the British red tops, they have stuck to their promise. To him, social media, and to the media at the time.

Dave was sent to the vets on Sunday to get his blood tested and the duo reportedly paid the Qatar Animal Welfare Society £2,000 for Dave to be microchipped and vaccinated against viruses including rabies. He’s heading back to England where he’ll spend four months in quarantine. And then he’ll be reunited with Walker and Stones.

Maybe that’s what Declan Rice had in mind when bringing over the empty suitcase. Fair play to the two lads and best of luck to Dave. I hope they brought the England jersey he was wearing with him, he’ll need the layers.

Eamon Donoghue

Eamon Donoghue

Eamon Donoghue is a former Irish Times journalist