Heartbreak & Pride: Italy V England
I don’t usually blog about sport or report the goings on in football but this game was very important, a piece of our history and I was buzzing for it!
It was as if the prospect of England winning its first international football trophy in more than five decades had ignited a sense of togetherness and irrepressible euphoria, even among those who normally paid little attention to football.
For most of the day, the thought of ‘it coming home’ summed up the determination of a nation desperate to let off steam after 15 months of lockdowns, social distancing and loss.
In the hours leading up to the final fans were seen doing the conga on trains at Paddington, while by early afternoon there were already long queues outside pubs showing the match. Children everywhere had revelled in the excitement, donning replica shirts and dreaming of their own future glory.
Throughout the hours of build up, choruses of “It’s coming home, football’s coming home” from the song Three Lions – performed live earlier in the day by its writers Frank Skinner and David Baddiel along with ‘66 World Cup hero Sir Geoff Hurst – and “Sweet Caroline, good times never felt so good” had filled the streets, homes and pubs across England.
The game started off with great potential thanks to Luke Shaw‘s second minute stunner, sending supporters into a frenzy and morale was at an all time high.
At half time the announcement came of a suspected security breach and the mood turned ugly outside Wembley, where groups of ticketless fans aggressively stormed the security barriers, kicking stewards and police officers out of the way to try to make it into the stadium.
The scenes left women and children in tears, according to onlookers, who were begging for stewards to help clear them away. Videos showed fans using upturned metal barriers as ladders to climb over the stadium‘s walls where clashes broke out between supporters amid the chaos. Videos emerged capturing an adult punching a kid in the head inside the stadium, while a group of men kicked an Asian male while he was on the floor.
At fulltime the score was locked at 1-1 before an agonising extra time where neither team could break the deadlock.
ENGLAND fans erupted in fury as Italy’s captain Giorgio Chiellini made a cynical foul, just before the end of normal time. England were fuming, I WAS FUMING! Chiellini blatantly dragged down Bukayo Saka by grabbing his shirt to prevent the 19-year-old from zooming past him. Chiellini could be seen extending his right arm to make a grab for England’s winger shirt before pulling. Saka collapsed down to the ground as he put down both his arms to break down the fall.
Chiellini received a yellow card for the action, a decision England fans hit out at demanding Italy’s captain be given a harsher punishment.
This is disgusting, Saka was playing professionally whilst Chiellini was playing dirty. Absolutely deserved a red card!
England’s bid to end their 55-year wait for a major trophy ended in the familiar agony of defeat in a penalty shootout as Italy claimed the Euro 2020 crown at Wembley.
England missed three of their five penalties, Marcus Rashford hitting a post and Gianluigi Donnarumma denying Jadon Sancho before – so cruelly for such a fine young player – Arsenal teenager Bukayo Saka also saw the giant Italy goalkeeper save his spot-kick.
On ITV, Ian Wright had words of comfort for Bukayo Saka. “He is more than capable of taking that penalty,” Wright said. “He is brave enough to take it. I am devastated for him. We have done brilliantly to get to where we got to but in the end we just got pipped.”
For Gareth Southgate and the young England team, the fans and supporters, defeat came in the cruellest, most operatic fashion at Wembley as England’s shot at a first tournament victory in 55 years as it just wasn’t in the bag for us.
England lost on penalties, but the only tarnishing display was the actions of the fans who tore up the city and forced entry into Wembley without tickets.
The racist abuse that followed online being directed at Rashford, Saka and Sancho is beyond despicable and needs to be called out! The racial abuse our players are going through is just disgusting and sickening.
Our team, The ENGLAND team have given the country some unbelievable memories.
Tonight will be extremely difficult for us of course, and we have to feel that disappointment because the opportunity to win trophies like this are so rare in life. But when the boys reflect on what they’ve done, they should be incredibly proud of themselves.
I am incredibly proud of our team!
Stay safe & take care,