BBC Radio 2 Pause for Thought


Archbishop Stephen today gave the Pause for Thought on BBC Radio 2's breakfast show with Zoe Ball. This follows in full.


It’s the Euros again. As they say, it's not despair that’s the problem. It’s the hope that kills you. 

With apologies to Scots, Welsh and Irish fans, I've been supporting England for a very long time. And my hopes have always been high. The earliest tournament I remember is 1966, and at the final whistle, my brother and I replayed the victory in the back garden.  

Four years later in Mexico I was, fully expecting England to win again. 

We played West Germany in the quarter finals. That morning, the great England goalkeeper, Gordon Banks, had been taken ill with food poisoning. Peter Bonetti, a fine goalkeeper, was drafted into the team. With about twenty minutes to go we had a two-nil lead. The German captain, Franz Beckenbauer, took a speculative shot from just outside the penalty area. Peter Bonetti dived, but the ball bobbled underneath him and went into the net. The rest, I’m afraid, is the history of the England team ever since. We never quite seem to make it. 

A few years before his death, I heard Peter Bonetti being interviewed.  He said that he'd watched replays of that goal many times over, and each time had thought, ‘maybe I'll save it this time.’

I don't hold him more responsible than any other player, but I do feel for him having to live with such regret. 

And it reminds me that alongside the highs and lows of football, all of us carry sadnesses and regrets, things we look back to in our lives and wish we could change.

I guess Peter Bonetti was able to live with his regret, because there were people who loved him, not because he was a goalkeeper and his achievements, but simply for himself, as he is. And although some of us really do care about football, and I really do hope England win, I know that there are so many other things which matter much more. I also know that as I face trials, sorrows and regrets in my life, it is the knowledge that I am loved which is what matters and sustains me. Loved by my family and friends. Loved by God. Shown what unconditional love is like by Christ. Cherished for who I am, not what I do.  

2 min read