It’s only fitting and fair to say that Gareth Southgate and his gallant Three Lions side acquitted themselves most honorably, doing both themselves and their nation proud at Euro 2020 this summer but were unfortunately unable to bring football home at Wembley on Sunday night.
Luke Shaw sent every English person into ecstatic delirium when he put the Three Lions ahead inside two minutes with a dapper back-post finish from Kieran Trippier’s creative cross.
However, Leonardo Bonucci – who played the devil incarnate to the entire English nation and who would also later rub salt into English wounds by screaming “It’s coming to Rome!” down one of the cameras – equalized for Italy midway through the second half and the English ecstasy was halted.
A tense 30-minute period of extra-time ensued with the final heading to a dreaded penalty shoot-out – with no one any wiser how the outcome would be, dicey as these things are.
England skipper Harry Kane and erstwhile defender Harry Maguire both duly converted from the spot but youngsters Marcus Rashford (23), Jadon Sancho (21) and Bukayo Saka (19) all missed. Football can indeed be a cruel, cruel sport.
Post-match, England’s devastated players trooped along forlornly to receive their runners-up medals and many were seen not exactly putting their best foot forward in being ideal role models for the sport but have been criticized instead by some football fans on social media for inappropriately, and insensitively, removing the silverware from their necks immediately after receiving it.
This increasingly, and lamentable, common sight in football in recent years, as in the same case of a number of key Manchester United players doing the same thing after they were beaten in the Europa League final in May.
Gallantry is not something confined only to the pitch and the disrespectful action of those players in spurning the runners-up medals only served to discredit their gallant display of fortitude and valor throughout the Euro 2020 campaign.
All that’s needed are a few sour apples, raw or otherwise, to bring disrepute to the entire barrel.
For this reason alone, perhaps, it’s better for now that “Home is Rome”.
Credit: Football Tribe Malaysia