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Southgate: Players must see Euros as success despite final agony


G

areth Southgate has told his players they must consider Euro 2020 a success despite their penalty shootout heartbreak in the final on Sunday.

The Three Lions took the lead against Italy inside two minutes at Wembley through Luke Shaw but sat off from there and allowed the Italy back into game – the visitors levelling through Leonardo Bonucci in the second half.

Neither side could find a winner and – for the fourth time in England’s history at a European Championship – penalties were required. As with the previous three, England lost. Jordan Pickford made two fine saves but misses from Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka meant Italy were crowned European champions for a second time in their history, ensuring England’s wait for a major title will go on at least until 2022 and the Qatar World Cup.

Despite the pain, Southgate’s side have inspired and united a nation, while he and his players have done something no other England team have managed since 1966 in reaching a final – beating Germany along the way as well.

“Is it a success? I think in terms of the players, they should feel that way,” said Southgate.

“They’ve made history several times during the tournament. They played so well during the first half that the expectation and pressure was so high.

“In the end we haven’t been able to keep the ball well enough in the second period of normal time especially, that invited more and more pressure. It’s something we know we have to be better at but the time to analyse that in depth is not at this moment.

“Tonight my pride is for what the players have done and the way they’ve carried themselves and been with each other is immense.”

England captain Harry Kane said the defeat would hurt for the “rest of our careers”, but many were on hand to remind the squad of what they have achieved this summer – including Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge.

“At the moment the players are understandably really quiet,” said Southgate. “The Duke’s just been down to see them in the dressing room and has rightly thanked them for what they’ve done and being fulsome in his praise.”


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