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Divided loyalties ahead of crunch World Cup qualifier between England and Poland
IT is the big match that is dividing friends – and families.
As fans flock to Wembley to watch England striker Lambert and Polish goalkeeper Boruc go head to head, households across Southampton will also be at odds.
Many in the city’s thriving Polish community are facing the tough decision about whether to back the Three Lions and the place they call home or cheer for the country of their birth.
Among those is Barbara Storey, founder of SOS Polonia Trust in Terminus Terrace, Southampton, which gives advice and support to migrants from European Union countries as they settle in the city.
Although she was born in Poland and has scores of Polish friends, Barbara has lived in Hampshire for 22 years and her husband, Peter, is English.
Barbara, 65, from Warsash, said: “I have a conflict of loyalty to both my real fatherland and my adopted country.
“I really love England so my heart will be divided.
“I would be happy anyway, whoever wins.
“There are many young migrants who are already in relationships with local people so there will be quite a lot of divided hearts.”
Peter, 73, said: “We’ve been together now for nearly 20 years so I’m quite used to it. I also pay more attention to the Polish results at the Olympics than I ever did before.
“I won’t be broken-hearted if Poland plays well.”
A win in tonight’s game, which kicks off at 8pm, will see England seal a place at the World Cup finals in Brazil next summer. Lose or draw and Roy Hodgson’s side will need to win a two-legged play-off to qualify.
Poland’s chances are already over.
Thousands of fans will be watching the match in pubs and bars across the south.
Hampshire police said there will be no extra patrols but officers have been put on standby for any potential trouble.
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