Following Gianluigi Donnarumma’s save of Bukayo Saka’s penalty in the waning seconds of the Euro 2020 final, the world’s attention has been riveted on England’s horrible and disgusting racist insults. Rightfully so, we should all join behind Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, Bukayo Saka, and the England squad as they stand up to racism in a positive way.
I had the incredible opportunity to attend England’s Euro 2020 matches against Scotland, Germany, Denmark, and Italy, all of which took place at Wembley Stadium. The behavior of England supporters during the final was shocking. Many supporters were aggressive, participated in unlawful conduct, and broke through stadium gates, frightening and injuring many people. These activities continue to detract attention from England’s outstanding performance in Euro 2020. This England squad has offered all of the team’s fans with lifelong memories, both winning and losing together.
That sensation of exhilaration and pride was overflowing as I stood in Wembley Stadium, one of 40,000 supporters, cheering the goals against Germany in the 2-0 triumph. I’ll never forget the enthusiasm of the crowd chanting “football’s coming home” or “Sweet Caroline.” That’s the euphoria this England squad has brought to tens of thousands of fans in the stadiums and millions more throughout the nation.
Remember that England failed to qualify for the Euros just 13 years ago, in 2008. However, England has performed well in the previous two major competitions, reaching the World Cup semi-finals in 2018 and the European Championship final in 2017. When it counts, England’s supporters finally have a squad that is entertaining, resilient, and competitive.
The development of England
This is not by coincidence; it has been deliberately orchestrated by Gareth Southgate, the team’s manager. He has produced a wonderful month of football and entertaining media coverage as a real gentleman and patriot.
Following on from Russia, England’s supporters have had unprecedented access to the players and staff, allowing them to come to know and love them like never before. Saka on the unicorn pool inflatable is maybe the most eye-catching picture from this ad.
“Gareth, whether he has won or lost, talking about an event like racism, speaks with dignity, compassion, and it resonates with the people of this nation,” ex-England and Manchester United midfielder Gary Neville said. The success of this England side, according to England veterans Frank Lampard and Rio Ferdinand, can be attributed to Southgate’s managerial style, standards, and personnel appointments. Southgate, I feel, simply understands it, as shown by his open statement before to the competition. He followed through on his pledge of “a summer to be proud of.”
With players like Raheem Sterling, Mason Mount, Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho, Jack Grealish, Bukayo Saka, and Harry Kane in the front line, some could say the squad should have been more offensive. They might also indicate that England’s possession game has to improve before the World Cup in Qatar, since the final saw England have just 34.6 percent possession.
However, the facts remain. There can only be one champion out of 24 teams in the Euros, and despite playing seven matches, two of which went to extra time, England stayed unbeaten until the lottery of penalties in the final. England made history by going five games in a row without surrendering a goal, with 11 goals scored by five different players and just two goals surrendered.
There is plenty to be proud of.
Many facets of England’s Euros trip should be appreciated and emphasized in the future. Jordan Pickford’s goalkeeping charm, best number of clean sheets (five games without surrendering a goal), and penalty saves won over the supporters on the field.
Despite early doubts over Sterling’s form and Harry Maguire’s injury, both players earned spots in the official Euro 2020 roster as wide attacker and left centreback, respectively, alongside the fearsome right fullback Kyle Walker. Luke Shaw’s performances at Euro 2020 have been outstanding, with even ex-manager Jose Mourinho – who had previously been critical of him – praising “Shaw’s incredible campaign.” His first goal for his nation came in the final, and it was the quickest goal ever scored in a European Championship final.
With his combative midfield efforts, ball recoveries, and goal assist against Croatia, the relatively unknown Kalvin Phillips has been acknowledged at international level. Phillips’ total distance travelled in the competition of 82.99km was second only to Jorginho of Italy (86.61km).
Phillips has received praise not just for his on-field accomplishments, but also for being the first player to comfort Saka after the penalty. He kissed his runner-up medal and remained on the sidelines to watch Italy capture the championship. This act captivated the hearts of the country as a demonstration of what this England squad stands for: compassion and elegance.
The individuals on this England squad have probably most critically managed to spread joy following a challenging period over the previous month. I’m filled with optimism, pride, and excitement to see England play in the Qatar World Cup in 2022. This group continues to take steps ahead in order to “bring it home,” with the final step generally being the most significant.