England fan fired after being caught on TV pulling sickie to go to Euro semi-final

9 July 2021, 10:28 | Updated: 9 July 2021, 14:33

Nina Farooqi, 37, was fired after being broadcast on live TV pulling a sickie from work
Nina Farooqi, 37, was fired after being broadcast on live TV pulling a sickie from work. Picture: ITV

By Kate Buck

An England fan has said she'd "do it all over again" after being fired when she was caught on live television pulling a sickie to go to the Euros 2020 semi-final.

Nina Farooqi, 37, decided to tell the white lie as her friend had won a last-minute ticket in a ballot and her work was short-staffed - so she knew if she did ask the answer would be a no.

The digital content producer, from Ilkley, Bradford, wrapped herself in an England flag to take her seat right behind the goal as England triumphed 2-1 over Denmark to make it to the final.

But while she had hoped to go under the radar, the TV cameras zoomed in on her celebrating England's equaliser - completely blowing her cover and broadcasting her face to nearly 30 million people in the UK and millions more all around the world.

But she has no regrets in taking the day off to see England storm to the final - their first major international final in over 50 years.

Beautiful moment young fan gets England player's shirt

She told the Telegraph: "They said they'd seen I'd been at the game, and I was honest about why I did it. But I didn't get any sympathy at all and they said that's it. That's their call and the consequence of what I did.

"There is a bit of regret, no one wants to get fired, but then also I would have hated the regret of missing out. I'd do it all over again."

Despite rushing home on the 6am train the next morning, Nina was told not to bother coming in as she had been spotted.

But she said the office job which she was fired from only serves to fund her football obsession, which sees her freelance as a photographer and video producer in the men's club game and across the Women's Super League. 

Charles Taylor, director at Composite Prime where Ms Farooqi worked, said: “It’s an exciting time for everyone in England and given the opportunity, we would have encouraged attendance to such an important football match. Unfortunately on this occasion our employee lied, taking one day off sick to attend the football match on Wednesday 7 July.

"This was in breach of her employment contract and so we had no choice but to take the appropriate action. As a business we value honesty and integrity, and we don't tolerate any employee taking advantage of our policies.

"Like many businesses will be doing across the county, our staff will be having Monday morning off to hopefully recover from celebrating an England win!”

Things we learned from England’s win over Denmark

Nina's moment on camera was not the only spectator to grab attention, with one little girl being seen bursting into tears after England player Mason Mount handed her his t-shirt.

An estimated 25.8 million people watched the match at its peak, up from 20.9 million for the quarter-final game against Ukraine.

Footage from Leicester Square showed fans climbing double decker buses, as huge crowds gathered to celebrate the result of the match.

The prime minister Boris Johnson tweeted: "Tonight England played their hearts out. What a fantastic performance from Gareth Southgate’s squad. Now to the final. Let’s bring it home."