Published 12 July 2021 2 min read
England Men's Senior Team

Southgate's pride

Written by:

Nicholas Veevers

Three Lions boss pays tribute to his squad after EURO 2020 adventure took them all the way to the Final
Gareth Southgate spoke of his pride at the way in which his young England team have performed throughout EURO 2020, despite Sunday’s defeat to Italy in the Final.

The Three Lions took the Azzurri all the way at Wembley, with the game tied at 1-1 after 120 minutes before the trophy was decided after a penalty shootout.

And there was heartbreak for England, as Roberto Mancini’s men held their nerve to win 3-2 after five kicks each.

“Our lads did themselves proud – every one of them has been exceptional,” said Southgate. 

“It’s the first time we’ve got to the final, and we’re unbelievably disappointed not to go that one step further.

“In the end, we weren’t quite able to see the game through in normal time. It was very tight and Italy showed what an outstanding side they are.

"It's hard to reflect in this moment because the disappointment is enormous for all of us. But this group of players have done themselves proud and the way that we've seen the nation get behind them - I know tonight will be the pin that bursts the balloon but I hope that everybody will remember what this group have given them.

"I think we've given everybody some fantastic nights. We wanted to give them one more and we're so close to having done that. It's hard for me at this moment to put that into words.”

England got off to a flier too, with Luke Shaw’s third-minute goal putting them ahead before Italy’s Leonardo Belluci equalised midway through the second period.

"We did start well,” he added. 

“I think our system worked really well against theirs - we got the goal from the overload with our wing-backs high, but they were bound to have a spell where they came into the game and they've got some outstanding players. 

"We didn't keep the ball well enough for that initial period in the second half - we changed the shape to try and get a bit more of a grip but I would say that was the area of the game: it was our lack of composure in possession that turned the game. 

"You've got to have a balance to the team - you can't just throw on five or six attacking players, otherwise you lose all your shape and we don’t have a foothold in the game.”
England's Bukayo Saka is consoled by his squad mates and Southgate following defeat to Italy
England's Bukayo Saka is consoled by his squad mates and Southgate following defeat to Italy
When it came to the spot-kicks, after Harry Kane and Jordan Henderson had despatched the first two, it was unfortunate to see late substitutes Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka denied as Italy finished 3-2 winners.

“We prepared as well as we could and that’s my responsibility - I chose the guys to take the kicks,” he said.

“Nobody is on their own in that situation [missing a penalty]. We decided to make those changes right at the end of the game, and we win or lose together as a team. They’ve given everything, the players, and they've been tight throughout.

"That's my decision to give [Bukayo] that penalty - that's totally my responsibility. We worked through them in training and that's the order that we came to, but that's my call. 

“That's always the risk that you run [the players coming on being cold in a shoot-out], but to get all those attacking players on you have to do it late. It was a gamble, but if we gambled earlier then we maybe lose the game in extra-time anyway.”