Italy with the Euro Cup

England 1 Italy 1 (Italy win 3-2 on penalties)

So, England lost the Euro Championship final in a not overly thrilling match in which they took an early lead through Luke Shaw. A lead that gave them a, quite possibly, undeserved confidence as the Azurri struggled to hit the rhythm we knew they were capable of in the first half. Insigne, in particular, seemed determined to allow the English to fulfil what, to their fans and media seemed to be ‘their destiny’.

At half time Roberto Mancini sorted out their problems as you might expect a manager with his CV to do. England, no doubt despite Gareth Southgate’s instructions, began to sit deeper and deeper chasing the ball from an ever more fluent Italian side who clearly did not think they were at Wembley to make up the numbers. It took 67% possession and 19 shots but Bonucci’s equaliser when it came after 67 minutes, following a corner, was entirely predictable and thoroughly deserved. England began to probe forward but 2 shots on target in 120 minutes does not suggest their forays into Italian territory were anything like successful. Italian goalkeeper, the brilliantly impressive Donnarruma hardly had a save to make. England’s most creative players – Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane – had no answer for the dogged defending of Italian captain Chiellini and Bonucci, both of whom picked up deserved yellow cards.

As the game entered extra time England looked tired and despite a couple of forays forward it became clear that penalties were their best chance of snatching what would have been an undeserved victory. With two minutes to go Southgate made the decision to bring on Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho to take the inevitable penalties. Both are proven goalscorers and both have taken penalties in the past. Was it a bad decision? Had they both scored it would have been considered an inspired substitution. As it was both of them and Bukayo Sako failed to find the net, Italy won and that should have been that.

Italians celebrate

Of course, the Euro final was not, and could not be, just about the football. For the English football is an ill fated attempt to relive a mythical past where white, Englishmen strode the globe bringing their version of civilisation to the World. The strange thing is that those most committed to that mythical past tend to be a feral, drunken mob that can barely tie their own shoelaces let alone rule the waves.

The racial abuse aimed at the three young black men who failed to score was the tip of a particularly ugly iceberg which had surfaced as soon as it became obvious that this England team could succeed where so many of their compatriots had failed. Talk Sport radio host Jason Candy made it clear that for him only England mattered and that he wanted Wales and Scotland to crash out of the competition. Despite this Welsh and Scottish football supporters were told that they should get behind this English team and support them in the final. Many undoubtedly did. Many more questioned why they should when English fans are no less supportive of their teams than they are of their own players taking the knee. There was widespread support for the booing which accompanied England’s players making a stand against racism, including the Prime Minister and Home Secretary supporting the racist mob. On the day of the final a drunken mob descended on London turning Leicester Square into a public urinal, and then attempted to crash through the safety barriers with many ticketless thugs managing to get into the ground where they joined in the jeering that accompanied the Italian national anthem.

English fans attack Italian supporters

As they received their runners up medals the majority of England’s players, including captain Harry Kane were seen to remove them in a show of bad tempered bad sportsmanship that would have been unthinkable in the days of Bobby Moore. The thugs took their cue and waited to hijack the Italian fans as they left the stadium after seeing their team be presented with the trophy. This is English football. Support our team even if you’re not English because after 30 years it’s our right to win something. Dare to beat us and face the wrath of our thugs as you try to leave the stadium. Play for us and dare to care for anything outside the narrow confines of kicking a ball and be booed for doing so. And, be black and dare miss a penalty and be subjected to the most vile abuse imaginable on social media. This indeed is a beautiful game.

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Dave Middleton
I'm Dave Middleton. I am a member of the Labour Party (until they catch up with me) and like to think of myself as left-wing. My Twitter account is @DavMidd Please do feel free to email me about this blog at
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