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Several hours into Britain's post-Brexit DTs, an Englishman stepped forward to provide context and calm the nation.

"I've not really thought too much about it yet," said striker Harry Kane. "I'm focused on the Euros. I will wait and see what happens."

There you go. He hasn't thought much about it yet (as if "thought" was something that required two weeks off and immersion in a lead-lined sensory deprivation chamber). He's going to wait and see what happens.

Brexit: The latest developments, how it happened and what's next

People will like that answer. It is reassuring and vague, and the guy saying it is a 22-year-old multimillioinaire with no formal education, so he must be right.

Britain needs that kind of wisdom now. Football wisdom.

Having won (i.e. lost) the most pointless game of political chicken in recent memory, the Vote Leave side has a small problem: Everyone hates them – even the people who sided with them.

The cheap chicanery of their arguments – "We're all gonna be rich!" – has already collapsed. They need good news and spokespeople who don't inspire a lustful desire among the mob for revenge.

The only guys who tick both boxes are here in France, playing Iceland on Monday.

In the coming hours, we're going to hear a whole lot of nonsense about the England team wrapping its arms around Europe in what might be its last chance to do so.

If Prime Minister David Cameron is no longer in a position to reassure anyone, I'm sure Wayne Rooney can manage it with a hearty "We will miss all you foreign swine more than you can know. Except the Germans."

Once this happens (as it must, for the most important reasons of all – marketing and schmaltz), John Bull may find himself wondering, "Where were these guys when they could've made a difference?"

They were doing what everyone in their position does when there is no financial incentive: nothing. No guy making millions working in his shorts ever lost a shoe sponsor for saying nothing.

While England is pushing the football team out as a damp, conciliatory handshake to the continent, the irony will be too delicious to ignore. When you want to understand why England's European experiment failed, look at football.

If they didn't quite invent it, England first codified the game. Then they worked very hard to keep it to themselves. The history of football in Britain is one of curious isolationism and deep suspicion of their neighbours.

Britain's football associations would not join FIFA when it was first created, even though they were to be given the primary place. They changed their minds. Then they quit because Germany and her allies were included in the post-First World War period. They rejoined, quit again and finally joined for good after the Second World War.

England didn't play in its first World Cup until 1950. Up to that point, they considered themselves far and away the best in the world at football. Now they had to prove it. It was a humiliating failure, including a 1-0 loss to the United States. The United States wouldn't win another game at a World Cup for 44 years.

Not having learned their lesson, England & Co. also opted out of the first European championship. They must have realized football was slipping away from them.

They won a World Cup at home in 1966, then went off a competitive cliff at the international level.

In the early 1970s, the United Kingdom's union with Europe was formalized. You'd expect a grand sense of openness and community might suffuse all national institutions. Not football. This was the moment when the English game became synonymous with thuggery – both in the stands and on the pitch.

They no longer controlled the sport. It is difficult not to see their reaction as a temper tantrum. If the Brazilians and Germans were going to make it beautiful, England would make it ugly.

In the decades since, they have continued to produce a very specific type of star – tough, athletic, but rarely refined or technically gifted. Whenever they think they've found that sort of player – Michael Owen leaps to mind – he is exposed as soon as he crosses the Channel.

Unlike top players from every other country in the world, the typical English star doesn't want to leave England. No amount of money can convince him. He'd have to learn another language! Whenever he does take a chance, he almost always fails.

The sport continued to be defined by teams on the continent – Barcelona, Bayern Munich, AC Milan. Though it didn't produce the best sides, the Premier League became the most cosmopolitan during England's Cool Britannia phase.

But they couldn't enjoy it. Every two years, they'd be reminded how far the national team had fallen. The Premiership and its surplus of foreign players were always the scapegoat. EU law prevented a complete return to parochialism.

In a few years, we should expect the "Premier League for Britons first!" movement to catch hold. And when it does, I will miss the Premier League.

That creeping animus, that resentfulness at having had something that was theirs taken away from them, never left English football.

It was evident here in France – and not just in the riots down south.

One night, I was sitting in a Paris pub talking to a couple of guys from Wales. There were Germans, Irish and Swedes in the bar. It was a lovely, tipsy pastiche of the tournament.

Then the English showed up. Seven or eight of them. Young. Affluent. Blind drunk. Shrieking at the top of their lungs. Singing through a game their team wasn't in and other people were trying to watch. As they tend to do, it was rudeness for the sake of rudeness, a thumb in the eye of their neighbours. You see it everywhere the English go in their great, masculine clumps.

One of the Welsh guys, Ben, was watching them and shaking his head. He turned to me and said ruefully, "The English."

Everyone who follows football knows what that means. And while those people may not be happy to see Britain go, I'm sure they're not surprised.

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