After England lost the Euros final against Italy on penalties, Gareth Southgate was very optimistic about his young bunch of players and feels that they will only get better from here.
The Three Lions were pretty close to lifting the trophy, which would have been their first since the 1966 World Cup. They even started with a bang as Luke Shaw scored one of the fastest goals in the Euros final history with a brilliant volley.
England dominated most of the first half but failed to add to the lead which kept Italy in the game. Roberto Mancini’s men were much better in the second half. They showed great intensity and took the attack to the opposition.
The Azzurri were rewarded with an equaliser when a loose ball in the penalty area was tucked in by Leonardo Bonucci. The match progressed to extra time, but none of the teams could find the winner, and it was decided in the penalty shootout.
Although England started well and with Andrea Belotti missing his spot-kick, Southgate’s men were well in the driver’s seat. But consecutive three misses from Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka meant that the Azzurri clinched their second European Championship.
Despite being heartbroken, Southgate believes that there are brighter days ahead for this young English side:
“We are all together, they’ve been incredible to work with. They’ve given the country some unbelievable memories,”he told the BBC.
“Tonight will be extremely difficult for us of course, and you have to feel that disappointment because the opportunity to win trophies like this are so rare in your life. But when they reflect on what they’ve done, they should be incredibly proud of themselves.
“At the moment, the pain of the defeat is huge, we wanted to give the nation one more special night and we weren’t able to do it. The World Cup feels a million miles away, but this team can be better and can improve, the number of young players we have blooded, they have been fantastic.
“But the future … yeah, I need a bit of time to reflect on that.”
The England team had a great run in the 2018 World Cup as they reached the semifinals before getting knocked out of the tournament by Croatia. But they backed it with an even better campaign at the European Championship. The Three Lions kept their supporters on their feet throughout the tournament and gave them hope. So there are a lot of positives for this English side heading into the FIFA 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Southgate feels that the team built great bonds at Russia a few years ago and have continued that in this tournament. Although they have not managed to give their supporters the biggest celebration of their lives, they have given them innumerable memories over the last few weeks.
“I think we built strong bonds in Russia and I think that’s continued through this tournament,” he said at a press conference. “I don’t know, tonight the balloon is burst isn’t it? The feeling will be very empty I know. That’s hard for everyone to take.
“We wanted to give everyone one more night to continue the biggest party ever. We haven’t been able to do that but I hope we’ve given everybody some incredible memories and the players should feel very proud of what they’ve done,’Southgate concluded.