TV View: No end to England’s hurt as prayers go unanswered

On Sky Sports News we got a glimpse inside Raheem Sterling’s old house

Bukayo Saka of England reacts after mising his penalty against Italy in the Euro 2020 final. Photo: Carl Recine/Reuters

“It had to come to this, didn’t it,” said the Beeb’s Guy Mowbray, and he was probably right. There being a certain inevitability to penalties being required to conclude England’s first participation in a major tournament final for a hurtful half-a-century-plus-five-years.

Come the end of the shootout? We’re up to 55 years and counting, and all you wanted to do was give Bukayo Saka a monster hug.

But even before the shootout, his Italian team-mates were hugging Gianluigi Donnarumma, like they knew he had this. And, well, so it proved.

It seems like eight and a half years ago, now, but during the pre-match build-up there was lots of chat about the agonising decisions Roberto Mancini and Gareth Southgate had to make with their team selections, particularly deciding on which poor lads they’d leave out. But their predicament was a whole lot less taxing that the one that confronted the rest of us: should we watch the game on RTÉ, the BBC or ITV?


There was also, incidentally, the option of watching Ed Draper and Darius Vassell watching the game on Sky Sports News, an option you’d wonder if even Ed or Darius’s loved ones chose themselves. It largely involved looking at them while they hollered things like “CLOSE!” and “OH MY GOD!” while having no actual clue what had just happened.

Earlier in the day, as part of their ‘COUNTDOWN’ coverage, which began when the final whistle blew in England’s win over Denmark, SNN ran out of people to interview. Before treating us to live coverage of the England team bus being washed, they headed to a house in north west London, knocked on the door and had a chat with the occupant, Lenson d’Acosta. Who? Well, exactly, the mystery only solved when the caption popped up on the screen under Lenson’s name: “Lives in Raheem Sterling’s old house.”

He does too, Lenson revealing recently that he “thinks” he sleeps in Raheem’s old bedroom. “I can really feel him walking around … some things you can’t explain, but they can be felt,” he said. He needs to either call his local Ghostbusting firm or have his pipes checked.

“Shouldn’t you be at Church,” Gary Lineker asked when the BBC coverage got under way. “We’ll all be praying tonight,” he added. At that point, though, the bulk of the praying was probably being done by the Wembley security folk who were dealing with mobs of ticketless fans breaking in to the stadium, which had to be temporarily locked down.

The BBC decided this wasn’t worth reporting, though, focussing instead on more topical matters, like Alf Ramsey’s management skills. But both ITV and RTÉ shared the news, a grim-faced Mark Pougatch bringing us clips of the mayhem, but mercifully not the one of the lad allowing another lad insert a lighting flare up his bottom. Presumably said bottom landed on the windscreen of Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.

Time for a quick chat with Geoff Hurst, who has done more interviews of late than Ian Bailey. He noted that Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini’s combined age is 70, so he advised Harry Kane to “turn ‘em ‘round and get their tongues hanging out”. Thanks for that, Geoff.

Team news. Usually, this is quite an exciting drum-roll moment, but as Damien Duff pointed out, with a wiggling eyebrow, said news had been leaked about eight hours before. Didi Hamann wasn’t impressed by the English formation - “a very cautious team … they are playing not to lose” - but back on the Beeb and ITV it was a case of ‘in Gareth we trust’. Which wasn’t unreasonable, in light of how they’d fared thus far.

Prediction time. They ranged from England by a goal, Italy by a goal, extra time and penalties, but it was the Duffer’s forecast that raised a chuckle. “If the game is played with one ball instead of two, I’ll go for Italy.” The lad’s been an irascible, grumpy delicious delight this tournament.

Anthems. Southgate’s plea that the Italian tune not be booed? Sure look, you know yourself.

Off we went. England took time to settle, not taking the lead until there was one minute and 57 seconds on the clock. As Guy Mowbray put it, “Shawberto Carlooooooooooos!” Somewhere in the hills overlooking Rome, José Mourinho was choking on his Spag Bol.

Mowbray, meanwhile, spotted David Beckham fist-bumping Tom Cruise in the celeb box. “A few good men,” he said. People have been sacked for less.

Half-time. ITV showed us a clip of Ian Wrightie, Gary Neville and Emma Hayes manically celebrating Shaw’s goal, like they were all bouncing on trampolines, the only movement from Roy Keane his re-positioning of his cup of tea so the Englanders’ high jinks wouldn’t spill it. You can be damn sure, too, it was Barry’s Tea.

Second half. Italy, you were beginning to sense, were not going to limp home. Leonardo Bonucci confirmed as much when he equalised in the 67th minute, at which point we had ourselves a game. By now, Lee Dixon on ITV and Jermaine Jenas on the BBC sounded like men who had lighting flares inserted in their bottoms. Rattled.

Extra time. Penalties. Of course. It was written in England’s stars. No end to the hurt.