FORGIVE me if I indulge a little and talk about football – not just any old football but that football!

Oh boy did we have fun! As the ball was saved, lost, saved again, we jumped and shouted, screamed and laughed to see if a man could get a ball into the back of the net!

What is it about that game that enthrals us all? The speed of the attacker, the guile of the defender or the unexpected error that seals the fate of the game. Even with the giant of a goalkeeper, man of the tournament Gianluigi Donnarumma, the defences were breached. It was such a fine line between winning and losing.

One thing’s for sure, we all needed the distraction.

There is an analogy of the pandemic being like a football match with the ball as the virus, moving at pace, and the attack and defence trying to prevent defeat.

We have had the advantage of scientific experts, vaccination development, information and encouragement. We have followed difficult restrictions, made sacrifices and suffered disappointments.

However, the real virus is invisible and still moves at pace looking for a new host. Vaccinations are building our best defences and our best hope of avoiding infection, with both doses proven to protect us up to 80-90 per cent.

It has slowed the hospitalisation and death rates, but not removed the risk completely. Younger people who are being offered the vaccine now should feel confident to take it.

Thankfully, it looks like we are now approaching the end game. But no matter how optimistic we are, there are difficult challenges ahead, with real and risky gaps in our defences.

In this phase of the pandemic, no matter the new rules, we still need, more than ever, to take personal control of our own protection. Staying alert will give each of us the best chance of avoiding an own goal of a random infection.

We all know what to do: Hands, Face and Space. That way we’ll all win.

Well, the Italians won, but you know what I mean!