Mourinho calls out England stars for letting Saka take decisive pen

‘Where was Sterling? Where was Stones? Where was Shaw?’: Jose Mourinho calls out England’s stars for letting Bukayo Saka take the decisive penalty… and suggests one player was left out because he refused to take a spot-kick at the World Cup

  • England fell apart during penalties against Italy in the Euro 2020 final 
  • Three takers missed from the spot at the Azzurri went on to lift the trophy 
  • Teenager Bukayo Saka was responsible for missing the decisive spot kick 
  • Jose Mourinho has questioned what England’s senior stars were doing 
  • Find out the latest Euro 2020 news including fixtures, live action and results here

Jose Mourinho has hit out at England’s senior stars for their failure to step up in the pivotal final moment against Italy in Sunday night’s Euro 2020 penalty shootout.

Gareth Southgate’s side went the distance, but came unstuck from 12 yards as three stars missed when called upon.

The decisive kick fell to teenager Bukayo Saka, who stepped up and failed to beat Gianluigi Donnarumma, but Mourinho insists a more experienced player should have shouldered the responsibility.

Jose Mourinho (L) has given his damning verdict of Bukayo Saka (R) taking the decisive penalty

The Arsenal teenager missed at Wembley when England needed to score to stay in contention

Harry Kane – scored

Harry Maguire – scored

Marcus Rashford – missed

Jadon Sancho – missed

Bukayo Saka – missed 

Speaking on TalkSport after the defeat to the Azzurri, Mourinho said: ‘In this situation, where was Raheem Sterling? Where was John Stones? 

‘Where was Luke Shaw? Why didn’t Jordan Henderson or Kyle Walker stay on the pitch?

‘I think it’s too much for a kid to have everything on his shoulders in this moment, but I don’t know, I have to ask that question to Gareth because many times what happens is that players who should be there are not there, players who should be there, they run away from the responsibility.

‘And because I feel Gareth is such an honest guy and is so protective of his players, I don’t believe Gareth would ever say if “Player A or Player B” ran away or hid or said they were not ready to take one.’ 

Mourinho went on to suggest that there was more to the squad selection than meets the eye, and that a certain player was left out of the set-up because of a refusal to take a penalty at the 2018 Russia World Cup. 

Mourinho wanted to know why experienced players like Jordan Henderson were brought off

The former Manchester United boss couldn’t resist but involve Luke Shaw (left) in his rant

He added: ‘Because, don’t ask me who because I will not tell you, but I was told 100 per cent that one player that could be in this team and was not in this team, one of the reasons was in the World Cup semi-final he should have taken a penalty and he refused.’

On the night Southgate made the controversial call of bringing both Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho on in the dying moments, with the intention of being ready to take a penalty.

Neither player had many minutes under their belt from the tournament, given England’s regular forward line had started almost all of the matches together. 

Gareth Southgate’s plan to bring on Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho for pens backfired

Mourinho continued: ‘In reality it’s very, very hard for Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho to come and take a penalty after one touch on the ball.

‘But for Saka to have the destiny of a country on his shoulders… I think it’s too much.

‘We can speak about the previous days and how they were amazing at taking penalties, but the problem with penalties is it’s one thing is to take one in training and one thing to take in a match, and for those situations there is no way to train them properly because you can’t train with the real pressure, it’s something you only feel in that moment.

‘Poor Saka, I just feel very sorry for him.’


Roy Keane has also criticised England’s senior stars – in particular Raheem Sterling and Jack Grealish – for not leading by example by taking a penalty kick in their shootout defeat by Italy.

England lost the Euro 2020 final after 19-year-old Bukayo Saka missed the crucial fifth and final spot-kick, following earlier misses by Marcus Rashford, 23, and Jadon Sancho, 21, to see the Three Lions defeated 3-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw after extra time.

The Arsenal starlet had to score to keep England’s hopes alive but he saw his penalty saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Roy Keane had sympathy with the winger though, insisting more senior players should have stepped up instead to take the pressure off him. 

‘If you’re Grealish or Sterling, you can’t have a young kid step up in front of you,’ the former Republic of Ireland and Manchester United captain told ITV. 

‘You can’t sit there and say “I see a 19-year-old kid walk in front of me, when I’ve played a lot more games, a lot more experience…” and Sterling, who has won trophies.

‘I’m not saying he wasn’t prepared, he might have been (penalty taker) six or seven, (but) you can’t sit there. It must be hard to take. You’ve got to get in front of this kid and say “listen, I’m gonna step up in front of you”.’

Former England right-back Gary Neville though insisted that England’s order of takers would have been based on performance in practising penalties in training rather than volunteering.

‘When we saw Saka walk up we probably expected to see Grealish or Sterling go up first before him,’ Neville added.

‘But they would have looked at who’s missed, when, who’s taken one. Grealish hasn’t taken one in two seasons. So obviously there’s something wrong there with his penalty taking. And Gareth will have looked at that and brought (on as substitutes) the boys most likely to score, in his mind.

‘They would have worked out over the last few weeks in camp, done sessions on it, looked at who’s scoring the most and got the best record. It would be scientific, it would be data-led.

‘Marcus does everything right apart from the important thing. That one (Sancho’s) you’d argue is a poorer pen. They’re always getting saved when the goalkeeper goes that way. 

‘This one (Saka’s) as well really. He’s such a great goalkeeper and when he goes that side he’s got a great chance of saving it, he’s so big.’

Rashford and Sancho react in horror after seeing their penalties fail to hit the net

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