Dele Alli and A Schoolboy’s Dream

That’s how first international goals should look.

Had Dele Alli opened his England account from two yards rather than twenty-five, it wouldn’t really have mattered - after all, there’s not really a bad way to score for your country.

Consider this, though: a screenwriter pitches a script in which his hero, a teenage footballer making his first international start, announces himself to the world with a thundering tackle, a pulsing run, and a fizzing shot into the top corner.

All in the same sequence, all within the blink of an eye.

The script gets thrown out, surely?  The writer is laughed out of the building and exiled from Hollywood forever.

All of us have scored Dele Alli’s goal.  Before we were old enough to know that we would never play professional football, all of us had dreamt of doing exactly what he did at Wembley last night.  On our full debuts - because no dream happens during a 47th cap - we have all made that full-blooded challenge on Morgan Schneiderlin, we have all taken that pass from Wayne Rooney, and we have all ripped that long-ranger past Hugo Lloris.

Maybe we beat an extra player, maybe it happened in the last minute, or maybe we thundered our shot in off the crossbar.  Maybe, but the ending was always the same: the goalkeeper was beaten, the net was rippling, and the crowd was cheering for us.

It was a goal to be celebrated, of course, but also one which was very familiar.  We’ve all seen it before, because we’ve all scored it - only we woke up disappointed afterwards.  Alli though, with his little limbs and little boy’s face, was skidding on his knees in front of the Wembley crowd.

It belonged to a wandering mind in a Maths lesson.