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England's Euro 2020 adventure: 5 reasons to be positive for the future

Gareth Southgate
(Image credit: PA)

The atmosphere in England right now is one of deflation. Euro 2020 glory was so close, yet won on penalties by the Italians.

But while near misses have felt like bullets to your heart in the past, this time around, there are plenty of reasons to be cheerful. 

REACTION Why England's Euro 2020 final defeat is different to other heartbreaks

There's a sense that England will learn from this defeat and come back stronger. This is not the end - not by any means.

1. England's core is so young

England had the youngest squad at Euro 2020. While disappointments in the past have signalled exoduses of leaders and pillars of English football, we could feasibly see Gareth Southgate's 23-man squad for Qatar 2022 consisting entirely of players who went to Euro 2020. 

Kyle Walker is 31 but doesn't look close to slowing down yet; likewise, Kieran Trippier, a year younger, still has gas left in the tank. It's not like England have a shortage of right-backs, is it? Jordan Henderson is also 31 but hasn't played much at this tournament. Aside from that, much of the squad is approaching its peak. 

2. Gareth Southgate will have learned valuable lessons from this

Gareth Southgate

(Image credit: Getty)

Gareth Southgate isn't much of a tactician, the naysayers will say. A better manager would've beaten Italy with that set of players.

And while that might be true, Southgate has outperformed any England boss for over half a century by making a final - Mike Bassett included - and instilled genuine hope with this side. He'd have learned lessons the hard way from this defeat and from the tournament as a whole, just as he has at other key moments in his career. 

3. The generation coming through should be better than the one they're replacing

Jude Bellingham will be 26 by 2030. Just let that sink in.

The youth that England have coming through is insanely good. Bukayo Saka is 19, Jadon Sancho, Phil Foden and Reece James are 21, Declan Rice and Mason Mount are 22. But look beyond the obvious ones and it's bright everywhere. Ben White is 23: how good a defender could he become? Aaron Ramsdale is 23, too: he could mature into a fine goalkeeper.

Then there are youngsters that England have at home in Mason Greenwood, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Emile Smith Rowe and Ben Godfrey. The future is incredibly exciting.

4. The squad harmony could well improve from this

Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden

(Image credit: PA Images)

One of the biggest reasons for England going so far, according to the squad themselves, was the positive atmosphere within the camp. 

This was something that the Golden Generation never really had - there were divisions back then that have since dissipated with the current England squad really good friends off the pitch. Now that they've gone through something as monumental as this, it's far to assume that they might even be stronger.

You'd assume, after all, that the bulk of this squad will be back for the World Cup next year. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and all that. 

5. The semi-final hurdle - and many others - have been broken

England achieved things this summer that they'd never done before. And not just in winning a first semi-final in forever. 

The semi-final hurdle was huge but so was beating Germany. They managed to hold onto a lead against Denmark by passing the ball around: something very un-English. They managed to create chances in open play - well, more than the World Cup three years ago - and they kept clean sheets, which few expected them to. 

Jordan Pickford saved two penalties in the shootout, too. They took it all the way. England teams always tell us how well they expect us to do but this time, it really felt like they broke down a lot of barriers and rewrote narratives. What's to stop them from doing that again in Qatar?

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