A woman who ‘pulled a sickie’ to watch England’s semi-final win was sacked after her boss saw her on TV.
Nina Farooqi, 37, made an excuse to dodge work in Yorkshire after her friend offered her a last-minute ticket to the historic night at Wembley.
She said she thought that she was unlikely to be granted the day off to attend, due to work being short-staffed, and so decided to call in sick and catch the Wednesday lunchtime train from Leeds to London Kings Cross, before heading to Wembley.
But the face of the digital content producer, from Ilkley, near Bradford, was beamed around the world when a TV camera zoomed in on her and her friend celebrating England’s equalising goal.
Farooqi, who was sitting behind the goal, even appeared on TV presenter Stacey Dooley’s Instagram story. When catching the 6am train back up north the next morning, she said her boss phoned her to tell her not to bother coming in.
Farooqi, whose LinkedIn page suggests she works a variety of freelance jobs, says she lost her office job, which appears to be as a Digital Content Co-ordinator at Leeds decking and and cladding firm Composite Prime.
Nina Farooqi, 37 (left), made an excuse to dodge work in Yorkshire after her friend offered her a last-minute ticket to the historic night at Wembley
The digital content producer was caught out when she appeared on the live broadcast during one of the goals
The digital content producer shared her excitement after Stacey Dooley posted an Instagram story showing Farooqi at Wembley
Farooqi told The Daily 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.’
Farooqi said her office job funded her football life, which sees her freelance as a photographer and video producer in the men’s club game and across the Women’s Super League.
Miss Farooqi had initially thought it would be unlikely she would be spotted in a crowd of over 60,000.
But when the avid football fan checked her phone at half-time, she realised her game was up. She said: ‘We were all over the news, my face was on every television screen across the world.’
The digital content producer revealed that even friends in Australia and the US got in touch to say they had spotted her.
She added: ‘It’s mixed emotions: we’re through to the final, I’m still on that high, but I’ve also lost my job.’
Explaining her decision to skip work, she said there was ‘no way’ she’d turn the opportunity down after her friend won the tickets in a work raffle.
She added: ‘This hasn’t come around since 1996, I vividly remember crying on my mum’s sofa when Gareth Southgate missed his penalty, and the football fan in me just couldn’t do it. Football is my life.’
Miss Farooqi had initially thought it would be unlikely she would be spotted in a crowd of over 60,000
Farooqi, whose LinkedIn page suggests she works a variety of freelance jobs, says she lost her office job, which appears to be as a Digital Content Co-ordinator at Leeds decking and and cladding firm Composite Prime
Miss Farooqi had initially thought it would be unlikely she would be spotted in a crowd of over 60,000. Harry Kane and the England team are seen above celebrating after the win
England fans at Wembley celebrate wildy after Harry Kane scored his side’s 2nd goal – which put them in Sunday’s final
Composite Prime describes itself as ‘innovators, designers and manufacturers of eco-friendly wood composite decking, cladding and flooring’.
Managing director Dom Harrison founded the company in 2015 and is thought to be the person who sacked Farooqi.
The company’s website says: ‘While we’ve been keeping busy with the surge of garden improvements during lockdown, we’ve also been busy creating the best team of people who are committed to helping our customers every need and providing the best products to all of our stockists.’
An entry for Farooqi on the site reads: ‘I come from a social media and content creation background, working across various sectors. I live on the internet, keeping up with the latest trends and memes.
‘When I’m not working or hanging out with my cats Crumbles and Licorice, you’ll find me photographing women’s football, which has taken me all over Europe; to Champions League finals and the World Cup.
‘I also love going to gigs and festivals when I can, knitting and gaming.’
Wednesday’s victory was a historic achievement for England and ended their 55-year wait to qualify for a major final – sealing their place in Sunday’s final against Italy.
The nail-biting showdown in front of 60,000 spectators at Wembley Stadium lasted into extra time, with Harry Kane blasting in England’s winning goal after the ball rebounded off the Danish keeper during a penalty.
Following England’s win, thousands of fans in the Wembley stands leapt onto their seats and waved their flags, while hundreds of supporters partied in Leicester Square, and blocked traffic around central London.
Some formed an impromptu mosh pit in front of the big screens while others grouped together at the London landmark with chants of ‘Southgate you’re the one’ and ‘Don’t take me home’ ringing out.