Later News Jul 12

Support pours in for Saka, Rashford and Sancho as Italy win Euros to break England’s hearts


This morning (SGT) at Wembley, Bukayo Saka bravely volunteered to bear the burden of taking England’s fifth spot-kick in their Euro 2020 final penalty shootout against Italy.

 

It was kick that would either prolong or end 55 years of a nation’s hurt. It was kick that would determine whether football would ‘come home’ or stay outside, partying like a middle-aged delinquent. It was a kick that he knew would either make him a hero, or open him up to dreadful abuse from idiots who keep proving Thanos right.

 

Remember, Saka is only 19. At that age, most men in Singapore can barely do a pull-up, let alone take on such an enormous responsibility. Unless, of course, you’re a TikTok star wannabe who thought doing a backflip at a rhino enclosure was cool, or a tech genius who is the co-founder and chief executive of a multi-million dollar lie.

 

Saka, as you all would have known by now, missed his spot-kick, giving Italy a 3-2 win on penalties. Cue the wild Italian celebrations, and the ugliest of heads being reared by certain sections of the English support.

 

WATCH: Re-live Italy's journey to their second-ever Euro title

 

The Arsenal forward, however, was not the only player to miss his spot-kick. Manchester United duo Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford had both also failed to put away their penalty. They, too, were not spared from the abuse of some of their so-called fans.

 

But enough with the negativity. These abusers simply do not deserve more airtime than they already have.

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Instead, let’s focus on the positives – namely, the immense support that Saka, Sancho and Rashford have since received following the match.

 

From regular fans such as these…

 

To former England internationals…

 

To official club accounts…

 

To even celebrities…

 

The support for the three players, and the England team as a whole, has been nothing short of inspiring.

 

England manager Gareth Southgate, who knows just how it feels to miss an all-important penalty, having himself failed to put away his spot-kick in the semi-finals of 1996 Euros against Germany, also threw his support behind Saka, and insisted that their failure to win the trophy was on him and not the players.

 

WATCH: Southgate clarifies that penalty takers were his call

 

“I have obviously lived through it but he’s (Saka) not alone, he’ll never be on his own as far as we’re concerned,” Southgate told talkSPORT. “He’s been an absolute star in this tournament.

 

“I have to take the responsibility with that call because in the end that’s my decision. It hasn’t worked. So, anything should come back on me and not on him.”

 

Reflecting on England’s heart-breaking defeat, Southgate said: “I feel for the players so much because they have been incredible. They should leave here with their heads held high. They have given absolutely everything they could. They have gone beyond any England team in the past 50 years.

 

“It is going to hurt and it has to hurt because we know these opportunities in life are so rare and it has been within touching distance for us and of course that is all the more painful.”

 

Meanwhile, veteran Italian defender Leonardo Bonucci, who scored the equaliser to bring the score to 1-1 in regulation time, could not resist a cheeky dig at England, having evidently been annoyed by all the chants of “it’s coming home” in the lead-up to the match.

 

The 34-year-old shouted “it’s coming to Rome” at the camera after the game, before explaining: “We heard it day in day out since the Denmark game, that the cup would be coming home to London.

 

WATCH: Bonucci says he was motivated by 'It's Coming Home' chants

 

“Sorry for them, but actually the cup will be winging its way to Rome, and that way, Italians all over the world can savour this competition. It’s for them, it’s for us, we have said since day one we believe we can do it. It is only right Italians celebrate in all four corners of the globe tonight.”