This is a tough post to make today. Last night, my head was full of the match, the teams, the play and of course, the penalties. Today, though, all these things have been subsumed by the reports of hatred, racism and violence by some people who are English and call themselves fans of the England team.
It was a match that will live long in the memory – and sadly, not in the way it did in 1996 – There is nothing whimsical in this loss. Overnight, the fun stopped, dramatically and profoundly.
It began superbly from an England point of view – A beautifully placed pass from Keiran Trippier over to Luke Shaw, who struck the ball home to put England ahead in the second minute.
The Italians are a strong team though, physical and hugely experienced – They began to find their feet and finally equalised – celebrating with their fans who were rightly ecstatic!
Gareth Southgate, so popular with fans like me when as a young player put himself forward to fatefully take the last penalty in 1996 – made the first of three substitutions with Saka – so young and inexperienced, too young in my view for the responsibility he took on. Here he is with Gareth adjusting his sleeve as the manager gives him instruction. I should imagine Gareth will feel these substitutions now just as badly has his own miss, for which he still feels keenly.
The boy was brave and missed, comforted by his manager and teammates – but I couldn’t draw any more. Too sad, too much.