Football fans have been reacting and reflecting on a historic tournament after England’s devastating defeat to Italy in the Euro 2020 final.
Loss in elite level sport will always be tough to take – but this one truly stings.
It was a triumphant run to the final by a team that captured the hearts of the nation and brought people together after a tough 15 months, but millions of people right across the UK are waking up this morning to the reality sinking in that Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions squad couldn’t quite clinch the win to bring home England’s first international victory since 1966.
After taking an early lead within the first three minutes of the match thanks to a goal by Manchester United left back Luke Shaw, Italy equalised in the second half as seasoned Italian defender Leonardo Bonucci found the back of the net.
The game subsequently ran through extra time to be taken down to penalties.
Youngsters Bukayo Saka, 19, Marcus Rashford, 23, and Jadon Sancho, 21, all missed penalties – leaving Italy with a 3-2 victory.
Burdened with a unique feeling that most of us will never experience, the players were understandably seen in tears after the game, but were embraced by their England teammates and Southgate – who admitted in a post-match interview that he had chosen who should take the penalties, saying: “I decided on the penalty takers based on what we’ve done in training.
“Nobody is on their own – that’s my call and it totally rests on me.”
“The opportunity was there for us, we didn’t quite take it and that’s going to hurt for a very long time,” England captain Harry Kane also said after the match.
“But that’s football and we have to get over it and move on.
“We have to build belief from this, we have a great young squad [so] we have to dust ourselves down, hold our heads high and get ready for [the 2022 World Cup].”
Although the loss was agonising for fans, countless public figures and famous names have taken to social media to issue encouraging messages to a team that has provided the nation with so much hope over the last month.
The Duke of Cambridge, who was present at Wembley alongside the The Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George, lead the plaudits.
Several other famous names, including Mancs and Mancs by association, also had their say.
Sadly, although there has been an outpouring of support, it has been confirmed that Saka, Rashford, and Sancho have all been subjected to abhorrent racist discrimination on social media – which the FA said it “strongly condemns” and has labelled “disgusting”.
Police said they were investigating “racist and offensive” messages on social media.
The FA added: “We could not be clearer that anyone behind such disgusting behaviour is not welcome in following the team [and] we will do all we can to support the players affected while urging the toughest punishments possible for anyone responsible.”
“We stand with our players,” the England team said on Twitter.
Prime Minister Boris has also tweeted this morning to say that: “This England team deserve to be lauded as heroes, not racially abused on social media.
“Those responsible for this appalling abuse should be ashamed of themselves.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer also said in a tweet this morning that: “The entire England team have brought us together and given us memories that will last a life time. They represent the best of us.
“Anyone racially abusing them is a disgrace and doesn’t represent us at all.
“More can and must be done to stop online abuse.”
The Metropolitan Police confirmed last night a total of 45 arrests were made in connection with policing the Euro 2020 final, which comes after thousands of fans gathered at Wembley prior to kick-off, with video footage showing dozens of people suddenly running into the area underneath the stadium stands and up the stairs.
Staff wearing hi-vis jackets tried to stop the crowds – but were overwhelmed.
Further scenes of public disturbance and violence involving members of the public following the final whistle have since emerged on social media in the early hours in the morning.
Police are yet to issue an updated statement on the matter.
Attempting to lift spirits as the reality sets in this morning, England’s official Twitter account shared some sentimental words referencing the ‘Football’s Coming Home’ chant – which has been the soundtrack to another English summer – with a half-and-half picture of a grassroots pitch and Wembley Stadium.
Afflecks institution puts out appeal to help find thieves who stole £20,000 worth of Pokémon cards
Collectors shop Card Empire has issued an appeal to help find two men who stole over £20,000 worth of Pokémon cards from the premises last week.
An Afflecks institution since 2005, the collectors shop that specialises in Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokémon memorabilia had an estimated £20k worth of cards nicked from their shop situated on the first floor of the popular indoor market and emporium.
Card Empire has two other locations across the UK, one in Stockport and another in Liverpool, but it was their Manchester city centre site that was hit by two individuals who simply walked in and walked out with the expensive collection of cards whilst the staff were bust with customers.
The owners shared multiple CCTV videos of the large box of 4000 cards being swiped from the desk on 17 May at around 3:30pm.
Card Empire is now asking anyone with information or who might recognise the two individuals to come forward and help them recover the stolen cards.
Writing in the Facebook post, store manager Anthony said that “the police have been informed, and because of the value of the cards it is being treated as a burglary by the police which will result in prison sentences.
“I’d like everyone to take a look and see if you know who these two are. They are clearly working together. We of course would like to get our property back but any information identifying these two would be much appreciated.”
He then went on to add: “To the thieves, you have 7 days to return the box before I make it my mission to see you behind bars.” The appeal from the store has even led other members from the international Pokémon community, with US YouTube content creator Rattle Pokemon sharing the following video:
Manchester given £72 million by Government to ‘improve train services’ in the North
A £72 million funding package that’s set to “improve train services” in Manchester and the North has been unveiled today.
After what can only be described as scenes of continuous travel chaos on trains throughout the Greater Manchester region, and across the North West and beyond over the past few years, with passengers being hit with ongoing strike action, lengthy delays, short-notice cancellations, and skyrocketing ticket prices, the Government has today unveiled a £72 million funding “boost” intended to address this.
The Department for Transport (DfT) says passengers across the North are set to benefit from “fewer delays and more reliable trains” under its new plans.
Rail Minister Huw Merriman revealed the latest of four infrastructure upgrades, which the Government says are aiming to “improve day-to-day journeys for passengers across the region” while supporting “productivity” and “economic growth”, during a presentation at Manchester Victoria Station today.
According to the DfT, the £72 million funding will go towards building a third platform at Salford Crescent station, as well as carrying out track improvement works across Manchester to help reduce delays, bottlenecks, and station overcrowding – which meanings passengers will have more “comfortable and reliable” journeys.
Manchester Victoria Station is also set to get itself extra entry and exit points to platforms under the funding, which the Government says will make it easier for passengers to travel through the station during busier periods.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper says the work to improve Manchester’s rail infrastructure will “leave a positive impact for generations to come”.
However, while several new measures have been announced as the £72 million funding boost has been unveiled today, it does appear that this has come at a slight cost to some previously-planned infrastructure improvements.
The DfT has today revealed that Network Rail has withdrawn its previous planning applications for the proposed construction of a platform 15 and 16 at Manchester Piccadilly Station, which was first submitted back in 2014, and has asked its task force to consider “alternative options to better serve passengers”.
They also want plans to support the £26 million that has already been injected into improve services at the city’s main train station, as well as at Manchester Airport and Manchester Oxford Road stations.
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has also welcomed the funding boost, and called it an “opportunity to change rail journeys for people and businesses” in Greater Manchester and the North “for the better”.