How Norwich can be England's good luck charm in Euro 2020
- Credit: Norfolk Museum Service/PA
Tonight England's Euro 2020 bid reaches its next pivotal stage - and a lucky charm kept here in Norwich could be the key to glory.
While matters on the pitch will be taken care of by the likes of Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling, under the watchful eye of manager Gareth Southgate, our home city has something of its own to add to the mix.
It often said that football can sometimes be as much about luck as it is skill, with superstition flowing deep through the veins of the beautiful game.
And it is here where the Fine City can lend a hand - in the form of a relic hidden within the expansive collection of the Norwich Castle Museum and Gallery.
The city landmark attraction is home to an exceptionally rare good luck charm - one of just four of its kind kept in the United Kingdom.
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Inscribed with a prayer, it would have been worn in a scroll around the neck of its owner and believed to bring them good luck.
It reads: "Give health and victory to Tiberius Claudius Similis whom Herennia Marcellina bore."
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And it contains the word 'Ablanathanalba' - a nonsense word of enchantment used by its Roman makers - the equivalent to the modern-day abracadabra.
Tim Pestell the museum's curator, said it is thought to date back to between 60 and 150AD and would have been worn by warriors as they headed out to battle - just like England will do on the pitch this evening.
He said: "It is a health and victory charm, so for England could protect them from injury which is important at such a key stage in the tournament.
"You can imagine Raheem Sterling going into battle wearing something like it, if that were allowed during the game."
And while it dates back to the Roman era, its origin is not believed to be in Italy - instead thought to have belonged to somebody of Germanian descent.
Dr Pestell added: "When Norwich lost to Inter Milan in the 1994 UEFA Cup I was pleased that they went on to win it - if you're going to go out of a tournament you want it to be to the champion.
"So with the charm being of German descent that could work in England's favour."
Another element of luck and positive energy in the city comes from the Sixth Scents stall on Norwich's award-winning market.
The stall, which sells a variety of crystals, stones and shamanic keepsakes - which could have spelled bad news for the Three Lions, given its proprietor Ron Fyfe, hails from north of the border.
But fortunately for John Stones, Kieran Trippier and company, the Scotsman has hailed long enough in England to wish them well in their pursuit of Euros glory.
He said: "I have to admit, I have customers ask me for crystals to help with all range of things, but I'm not sure I've ever been asked about helping a football team before.
"It's usually more to do with personal issues, but crystals and stones do carry their own energies which can be used as tools for luck - it's all about belief.
"I wouldn't want to say which crystal would work best for England so the best thing for supporters would be to buy as many as you can and see which one works best!"