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PIERS MORGAN: The USA women's soccer team are a bunch of brash, cocky, taunting prima donnas - but these brilliant, ruthless winners also walk the talk, so I reluctantly raise my tea-drinking pinky finger and salute them

As iconic mocking taunts go, it was right up there with Usain Bolt’s ‘SSSHHHH’ sign to critics, Muhammad Ali standing over Sonny Liston yelling ‘Get up and fight, sucker!’ and Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman butt-slapping vanquished opponents,
The USA women’s soccer team star striker Alex Morgan scored the winning goal against England’s ‘lionesses’ in the World Cup semi-final last night, and ran off excitedly to celebrate.
Then she suddenly stopped dead in her tracks and very slowly, very deliberately, raised her right hand to her mouth with her little pinky finger arched upwards – and took an imaginary sip of a drink.
I was watching this happen live on TV back in London, and instantly knew what my namesake was doing.
She was mocking the way English people drink tea.
Now, there are many things you can tease my fellow countrymen for, from our silly accents and love of cricket to our badly maintained teeth.
But laughing at our fondness for tea crosses an unspoken line.
It’s been our national drink for centuries, the thing we all guzzle like Americans drink cola.
In fact, we consume over 100 million cups of tea every single day – that’s 36 billion a year.
It’s such an inherent, cultural part of Englishness that Morgan may as well have declared war on us.
I myself am a tea addict; I swig at least six cups a day and find it both energizing and therapeutic.
I wouldn’t quite go as far as the singer Boy George who once said ‘I’d rather have a nice cup of tea than sex’.
But, depending on the sex, it would be close.
Indeed, I brewed myself a large pot of tea – for purists, the Yorkshire Gold variety, as recommended to me by Star Trek actor Sir Patrick Stewart – as I sat down to write this column.
It sustains me, it inspires me.. it soothes me.
Tea, as for so many people born and bred in England, is my comfort blanket.
So when Alex Morgan mercilessly lampooned tea drinkers after scoring against England, it hurt us badly.
And initially, I hated her for it.
How dare this jumped-up, smug, cocky prima donna make fun of us in such a derisory personal and frankly xenophobic manner?
I expressed various derivatives of this view on Twitter and of course, was immediately cremated by gleeful Americans.
Undeterred by the onslaught, I went on the attack.
‘When we win this, I hope every one of our players feigns eating a Big Mac and large fries,’ I raged, alluding to what most people in England assume Americans eat all day. ‘Come on Lionesses!’ I beseeched. ‘make these cocky yanks choke on it.’
Of course, we didn’t.
We lost 2-1.
And we had a goal ruled offside.
And we missed a penalty kick.
And we had a player given a red card and sent off.
So it was a disastrous night for a nation that invented the bloody game in the first place, and ironically, USA made England and me choke on it.
What particularly upset me was that we’d lost to a bunch of truly arrogant, strutting, preening show ponies whose absurdly over-the-top goal celebrations against far lesser teams like Thailand had already caused outrage during this tournament.
Its ‘activist’ captain Megan Rapinoe, who must surely be a candidate for most annoying woman in world sport, dictates the tone for this USA team.
When she’s not standing there on the pitch with her arms outstretched inhaling presumed adulation like she’s Lady Gaga at the Oscars, she’s ranting away about how much she hates President Trump or taking the knee during the national anthem in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick.
So the sight of her and tea-sipping Morgan dancing jubilantly on England’s soccer grave last night at the end of the game was enough to make me vomit.
But when I woke up this morning, I felt rather differently about them and their team.
Once the pain of losing to them had dissipated, I was able to see them for what they are – and that’s not just the best female soccer team in the world, but the best female soccer team in history.
They’re a ruthless and relentless winning machine; fast, powerful and highly skilled, and mentally so strong, resilient and determined.
No wonder they’ve won so many World Cups and Olympic Golds - they’re absolute killers.
And in sport, as in life, if you can deliver on all your self-hype then people will not just grudgingly respect you, many will love you for it.
As Donald Trump once told me with such prescience: ‘If you talk the talk, you gotta walk the walk, or the act doesn’t play.’
Now that I’ve calmed down and had time to reflect, I can see that the cold hard reality of last night is the USA gave England a lesson in how to play our own game.
Ironically, they did so because the women’s game is so much more advanced and better funded in the States than it is in England, to our shame.
But regardless of how large your resources, you still have to win.
And the USA team that knocked England out of the World Cup is rightfully feared and revered around the world because the USA players are better at women’s soccer than anyone else.
It’s a simple as that.
I’ve even found the inner strength to have a wry chuckle at Alex Morgan’s tea-drinking taunt, because when you win so emphatically and with such style, you also win the right to have a bit of fun at the loser’s expense.
The uncomfortable truth for everyone back in England today is that Morgan and her teammates were just too good for us.
So, admittedly with great reluctance, I must dig deep into my rarely tapped reservoir of good grace, and acknowledge this unpalatable fact.
I will also raise my own little pinky finger to toast America’s victory and wish them good luck for the final on Sunday, which I confidently predict they will win.
And when they do, I’ll have a nice cup of tea to help me get over it.

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