The Euro Cup 2020 Championship (postponed by 12 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic) proved to be an amazing nail-biter of a soccer match between England and Italy. Both teams were under a lot of pressure to secure victory as Italy hadn’t won in 53 years and England never won, only making it to the semifinals twice in the tournament’s 63-year history. The last time England had won a major international tournament was the 1966 World Cup.
England’s Luke Shaw scored quickly within two minutes of the game’s start. Italian fans learned the art of patience as it wasn’t until the 67th minute of the game that Italy’s Leonardo Bonucci came through with the goal that would keep them alive.
A 1-1 tie in regular play led to two scoreless overtime periods, a total of 120 minutes of solid hard-fought football.
Other than a tackle from behind, yielding a yellow card for England and an Italian player cleating an English player, the game was fairly clean in overtime. The players weren’t visibly nasty with each other, which can occur with fatigue, especially in such a high stake situation. The two teams kept their composure the entire overtime period. England put a lot of pressure on Italy’s defense, but they remained impenetrable.
Italy came out ahead in shootouts 3-2 and won the championship. Shootouts are as much a psychological battle as they are a battle of skill, but it wasn’t until after the game had ended when many of England’s players truly lost.
Post-game, medals were given to the referees, the Euro Cup runners up and the Euro Cup Champions. Euro Cup officials placed the medals over the heads of England’s players, one by one, as they queued up. But the majority of the English players promptly removed their medal with disgust before the camera lens for all to see. Until this point, I had enjoyed watching this soccer match and the post-game celebrations and emotions. I was impressed with the good sportsmanship and clean play on both sides. Yet this action jolted me as the players displayed ungratefulness and childish behavior. So many young athletes are showing these same attitudes.
When you face a loss, the only way you can redeem that loss is to be thankful for the opportunity to learn, grow or compete; and to lose with grace and dignity. It was sad that these players for England showed such poor character after battling so hard. They definitely have some growing up to do.