Pre-flight expectations were high with most fans expecting England to progress to the prestigious immigration queue stage, and some dared to dream the team would board the flight and make it all the way home.
But the Customs fiasco had the press and fans question whether England can actually compete with the best on the international travel stage.
“The fact is we haven’t got one world class frequent flyer. A lot of the players shine at the domestic level, but boarding a bus or catching a train doesn’t prepare you for the bustle of an International Departure terminal” said Harold football commentator Bevan Cripps.
“Take Wayne Rooney – in his day he could jink past a Customs officer like they were standing still, actually usually they were standing still. But this time they used him in an unfamiliar ‘reading and writing role’ to fill out all the departure cards. And they wonder why they are still on the ground.”
“We couldn’t even get the basics right. Stevie G is usually a safe pair of hands but instead of moving the luggage forward to the desk, he kept giving it away to Italian and Uruguayan passengers” said Cripps.
Many fans said England just didn’t play smart and lacked ‘mongrel’.
“Look at the unfancied Costa Ricans who used their low profile to slip under the Customs desk unnoticed” said Phil Jones from Dunstable. “And Uruguay’s never say die attitude meant they were prepared to bite a Customs official to get through.”
But English Manager Roy Hodgson said despite the early exit there were plenty of positives.
“The way the boys got to the airport was fantastic – better than Poland or Scotland could achieve. It was a young team and they really stuck together – it’s just a pity that when the plane was due to leave, they all forgot to leave the BA First Class Lounge.”