Shaw defends penalty takers in wake of England's final defeat

Defender says there will be no recriminations within Southgate’s united squad

 Bukayo Saka of England is consoled by teammates Kalvin Phillips and Luke Shaw after having their team’s fifth penalty saved in a penalty shootout during the final against Italy. Photograph: Carl Recine/Pool/Getty Images

Bukayo Saka of England is consoled by teammates Kalvin Phillips and Luke Shaw after having their team’s fifth penalty saved in a penalty shootout during the final against Italy. Photograph: Carl Recine/Pool/Getty Images

 

Luke Shaw has said Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho have the total support of their England teammates and no individual is responsible for defeat in the Euro 2020 final.

The young trio have faced a barrage of racist abuse on social media after missing in the penalty shootout defeat against Italy at Wembley on Sunday.

Questions have been asked of Gareth Southgate’s decision to allow the 19-year-old Saka to take the fifth and decisive penalty. But Shaw says there are no recriminations inside a squad whose togetherness shone through the European Championship.

Shaw, who swept England ahead with the quickest goal scored at a European Championship final, said of Saka: “He is devastated. But the most important thing for us now as a team is to be there for him and give him a big hug and tell him to keep his head up. It is a penalty shootout – anything can happen.

“It is an experience he will learn from but we will all be behind him – he knows that. It is not just him. There’s Rashy and Sanch also. With this team there are no individuals who cost us.”

The full-back highlighted the spirit within the squad as one of the central features of the march to a first major men’s final in 55 years.

“The togetherness in the squad is definitely there,” he said. “You could see that even after the game in that huddle and with the way we were with the lads who missed . . . We are going in the right direction but this is a massive, massive disappointment.”

Shaw believes Sunday will prove “a massive learning experience” for a young team now established as contenders for major honours having reached the Euro 2020 final and the 2018 World Cup semi-finals. But he says the pain of defeat will be felt for a long time.

“First and foremost I hope we made the nation proud – that is always important to us,” he said. “It wasn’t what we wanted and I’m sure it wasn’t what they wanted, but I hope this tournament brought smiles and joy to people even if it ended on a low.

“Overall, the experience we have all had as a team with the fans being here are memories we won’t forget. But we know as a team we can always keep improving.

“The good thing is there are a lot of good young players in the squad that are only going to mature and gain experience from matches like this. The experience is growing with the younger players and we are learning all the time, even when a big blow like this comes to us.

“It is going to hurt for a while but we are back in camp towards the end of next month for a new adventure in the World Cup and we want to qualify for that. We know there are things to improve on as a team but I am sure we will get there.”

– Guardian

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