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England vs Italy Euro 2020 final reaction: Pride remains at the end of an incredible summer

Bukayo Saka
(Image credit: PA Images)

England's hopes of Euro glory ended in gut-wrenching fashion, as they once again succumbed to a penalty shoot-out against Italy in the final.

FourFourTwo were at Wembley to witness the action - here are our five big talking points from the match.

So much to be proud of

Croatia. Iceland. Uruguay. Italy. Germany. Croatia. Portugal. Portugal. Brazil. Romania. Argentina. Germany. Netherlands. Sweden. West Germany. USSR. Argentina. Denmark. Spain. Italy. Italy. Czechoslovakia. Poland. West Germany. West Germany. Yugoslavia.

Since 1966, that was the list of countries that came between the England men's team and their dream of winning another major tournament, every two years. Everyone hoped the wait was finally over, but sadly for the Three Lions, Italy has to be added to the list for a fourth time.

In reaching a first major final for 55 years though, England have so much to be proud of. This truly was a remarkable summer.

Saka didn't deserve this

Bukayo Saka had an outstanding tournament, grabbing his chance and playing better than anyone could possibly have expected an 19-year-old to play. 

The Arsenal man has a fine career ahead of him, and he must remember all the good moments he produced during this tournament.

It was a cruel blow that it should end with his spot kick handing Italy victory. Absolutely no-one should blame him.

Southgate's still the one

It was cruel on Gareth Southgate too, that a penalty shoot-out should deny him glory at Wembley again.

Southgate made the bold call to bring Marcus Rashford and Jason Sancho on specifically for the shoot-out, but sadly it didn’t pay off.

England got through the most worrying bit - having to play the last five minutes of extra time with Rashford at right back and Saka in central midfield, after Jordan Henderson and Kyle Walker had been substituted.

Jordan Pickford made two fine saves in the shoot-out, but Rashford and Sancho both missed, and it ended in heartbreak for Southgate again. He’s still done a brilliant job with the national team, both in this tournament and over the past five years.

Outstanding Mancini

Italy didn’t even qualify for the 2018 World Cup, but the job Roberto Mancini has done since taking over has been nothing short of sensational.

The Azzurri came into this tournament on the back of a brilliant 27-match unbeaten run, and extended it all the way to 34 to win the trophy.

They did it largely on the front foot, with attractive football. Few could begrudge them the trophy.

Eight years after Mancini left England by embarrassingly losing the FA Cup final to Wigan, he has proven himself once more as one of the best managers in the world.

An atmosphere we'll never forget

There was a little bit more of an edge to the atmosphere outside Wembley for the final, with many turning up without tickets, and some attempting to force their way into the stadium pre-match.

Trouble was witnessed at Leicester Square too, but the majority of the nation were ready to celebrate England’s first appearance in a major final since 1966 in a peaceful way, with flags wherever you looked on the way to Wembley.

Inside the arena, the energy was about as electric as anything this reporter has ever witnessed. Italy had a few thousand tickets behind one goal, but they were vastly outnumbered and drowned out.

Early on, it was an almost impossible environment for the Azzurri to play in - when England launched their first attack in the second minute, they poured forward, buoyed by a huge roar from the crowd.

It felt like an unstoppable wave of noise, culminating in Shaw finding the net seconds later. It was a remarkable moment, one that football delivers only rarely.

This tournament didn’t end in the way that every England fan had hoped, but it was a summer when the nation came together, and delivered some of the most amazing scenes that have been seen for many decades.

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Chris joined FourFourTwo in 2015 and has reported from 20 countries, in places as varied as Jerusalem and the Arctic Circle. He's interviewed Pele, Zlatan and Santa Claus (it's a long story), as well as covering Euro 2020 and the Clasico. He previously spent 10 years as a newspaper journalist, and completed the 92 in 2017.