It's heartbreak now - but England can be proud of Gareth Southgate's team

They may have fallen at the final hurdle, but Gareth Southgate’s England team were an emotional salve for a hurting nation – and they will be back

Gareth Southgate embraces Raheem Sterling after the UEFA EURO 2020 final (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

“It totally rests with me.”

Those were the words of Gareth Southgate in his post-match interview, following England’s heart-breaking penalty shootout defeat to Italy.

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This was typical of the man’s integrity and character.

Of course, he endured his own penalty heartache in 1996. He knows exactly how Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jaden Sancho will be feeling right now.

And he is willing to shoulder the responsibility, to put an arm round his young stars.

England fans up and down the country will be feeling the pain acutely right now.

There will no doubt be words of anger and frustration aimed at the players and coaching staff.

But instead of indulging in the blame game, we should remember what this England team achieved.

They brought the nation together after a year of misery. They gave us cause for celebration, joy, connection.

There is nothing quite like sport when it comes to building this kind of community, these connections between both friends and strangers.

Yes, they will have their detractors, but for now, let’s remember the passion, the heart and the character that brought this young, exciting team to the verge of glory.

They will be back for the World Cup next year. The emotional rollercoaster will start all over again.

In contrast to the so-called golden generation of egos and cliques, this England team were unified and likeable.

They may not have experienced the ultimate euphoria, but they can hold their heads up high.

What did you think of England’s performance at Euro 2020? Let us know in the comments below.