BEAUTIFUL place, Amsterdam.
Great to walk or cycle around, taking in the incredible buildings and canals.
Then England get to play there and suddenly it becomes the worst place any right thinking person would want to be.
The shocking scenes that I witnessed on television and social media on Friday made me sick to the stomach.
Every time we think the hooligan problem might have finally gone away, we are reminded that it hasn’t.
You almost end up looking away when people ask you where you are from when you go back to a city our hooligans have defiled.
I am proud to have played 63 times for my country — 34 times as captain.
But if this was my time, I would not want my kids travelling to watch me play for our national team.
I would not want them put in such danger. Dragged into a scene that was not of their making. See them targeted, just because they are English.
There is a group of my friends who have been to every major tournament England have been in over the past decade or two.
I meet up with them in my spare time during my TV punditry duties and we have a good time.
That won’t be happening this summer.
They will not be going to Russia.
Not after the experiences they had in the Euros in France, or what they have witnessed this week as a great city turned into some sort of battleground.
There were more than 100 arrests in the end — lock ’em up and throw away the key, I would say.
Now there will be decent, law-abiding people reading this asking why they should be aligned with the worst trash that we export abroad in the name of sport?
No you shouldn’t be, and often many are the victims of overzealous policing, as some Chelsea supporters were in Barcelona during their Champions League showdown.
But that only adds to the list of ‘cons’ when you are weighing up whether it really is all worth it.
I have to say it was a joy to play in front of the vast majority of England fans, often in amazing atmospheres.
One that always stands out for me was in France 98 in our opening group game in Marseilles, which we won 2-0.
The problem was what happened outside the stadium as hooligans ruined the whole experience.
The people of Marseilles must wince when their city is chosen for one of our games, as it was again last summer.
This does affect the players as well.
They will have family and friends who will have travelled to watch them play against the Netherlands.
For them, it is one of the proudest moments of their lives to see a son or long-time friend represent their country in a major tournament.
That player does not want to be fretting all the time about their safety — and they will be.
I don’t know how many wives, children or parents are going to Russia 2018. But, if it was me, I would tell them not to bother.
I remember my family, including my eldest daughter who was then six, came to support me at France 98 and, of course, your first thought is for their safety.
If it was now, and this summer’s tournament and I was playing, I would just tell them to stay at home.
That’s because I actually think the threat to people’s safety is worse now. The problem is that even if fans do not cause trouble, they will be targeted on reputation alone.
That is a major problem going to Russia.
It is well documented that they have a seriously scary lunatic fringe who prepared for the last Euros like it was some major battle.
We are seen as the enemy.
The tensions between the two countries politically can only add to that.
Can you really walk around one of Russia’s cities this summer feeling completely safe as an England football fan, even if you are on your best behaviour?
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It seems such an incredible shame that we even have to be talking about this after England had actually gone to Amsterdam and won — albeit against a dreadful Dutch side.
But after our 1-0 friendly win, Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate had to address the issue himself, along with the well-taken goal by Jesse Lingard.
It’s a major headache and one I would want anyone close to me to simply avoid.
It is often said that we won’t let the hooligans win. I fear that, come this summer’s World Cup, ticket sales among England fans will suggest they have.