Gareth Southgate says penalty takers were his call
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Gareth Southgate has rejected a theory that England were too nice to win Euro 2020 following their penalty shootout loss to Italy last night. England were appearing in their first European final, and were beaten 3-2 on penalties. There have been questions raised over whether the Three Lions needed more bite to bring the trophy home.
“You’re not a nice team to get to a final,” Southgate said. “We overcame a lot of hurdles that we haven’t in the past.
“We have a lot of players who are inexperienced at an international level – and they performed incredibly.
“We have beaten Germany and we have taken Italy, who are unbeaten in 33 games, right to the wire. If we had been torn apart… but we performed well.”
Southgate remains upbeat despite the loss, adding: “If you want sustained success as a team, you need to be constantly evolving, improving and constantly finishing in latter stages of tournaments.
“It feels like my stomach has been ripped out this morning. But the fact we have had the first signs of some consistency – a World Cup semi-final and a Euro final – has to be a step in the right direction.”
Taking time to thank his support staff, Southgate believes he is “very fortunate” to lead some “incredible” staff, citing everyone he’s worked with as “special people”.
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Southgate said: “The work in the background is phenomenal. I have to highlight Steve Holland – a phenomenal man and a a phenomenal coach.”
With such a young squad, the Three Lions boss believes his team will reap the rewards in the future, and this is just the start of what could be a glittering period for English football.
The 50-year-old explained: “We’ve wanted for a long time to make playing for England fun and enjoyable. I think they have had a fabulous experience, they have loved one another’s company. It’s a club-like spirit. All this team can go again – there is no doubt about that.”
Southgate was asked about the terrible racial abuse Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka received after they each missed their respective penalties last night.
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“I’m not totally across everything but my first thoughts this morning are with the boys that have done so well for us. The players have had such a great togetherness and spirit and brought our country together,” he said.
“For some of them to be abused is unforgivable. Some of it has come from abroad, we have been told this, but some of it is from this country. We have been a beacon of light to bring people together and the national team stands for everybody.
“We felt the energy and positivity from the fans and I’m incredibly proud of that.”
Arsenal and Manchester United are amongst the clubs that have come out in support of the abuse that some English players received last night.
Southgate was quizzed about his own England future, and if he’d be the man to take this young group of players further.
“I don’t think now is an appropriate time to be thinking about it. We have to qualify for Qatar. I need time to go away and reflect on Euro 2020. I need a rest,” he said.
“To lead your country in these tournaments takes its toll. I don’t want to commit to anything longer than I should. It’s not a financial thing. As I sit here today. I would be wanting to take the team to Qatar.”
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