Italy vs England Euro Live Football Score 11 Jul 2021
It’s longer than the lifetime of many of the supporters who were inside Wembley or watching on from afar on Wednesday night. It makes up the majority of the lifetime of plenty more who witnessed Gareth Southgate’s side carve out a moment of English football history.
It’s a timeline which stretches back over early childhood memories. Vague recollections of white shirts on TV screens during distant summers, when something important was taking place but, whatever it was, disappointment was the final feeling.
As the years moved on, the context became clearer – but that deflation repeatedly returned. The excitement, the belief was always crushed by the blows of defeat. The realisation it wasn’t going to be this time. The lump in the throat. The tears.
How harsh those losses felt when you were young. So in love with the game, so certain of your heroes – and so unprepared for what awaited them.
For different fans the let-downs will be more keenly felt in different eras but from Mexico to Italy, Belgium to Ukraine, Japan to Brazil, England and their supporters have travelled the world in search of success and only found heartache.
Whether you’ve been in for the whole stretch or just done relatively little time, we’ve all been trapped in the prison of pain that has been supporting England. The inescapable disappointment. ‘All those oh-so-nears/wear you down/through the years’.
But after all those years of hurt, Gareth Southgate’s young side have begun to unpick the lock.
Undimmed and undeterred by the failings of their predecessors, they’ve cast off the shackles of the past. A penalty shoot-out win over Colombia. A first knockout match victory over Germany since 1966. And now a first major tournament final since the other one.
Wembley roared with freedom when Harry Kane followed up his penalty to smash England past Denmark and into Sunday’s showdown with Italy.
It was a celebration incomparable to anything previously seen in the new incarnation of the national stadium. After a year and a half of lockdowns, restrictions and enforced distance from football, there were scenes to treasure. Fans running down aisles. Fans climbing on other fans’ shoulders. Fans with their hands on their heads, unable to take it all in.
It was an outpouring of pent-up passion and joy. The goal snapped the tension of the tie but the emotions around the ground were super-charged by what had gone before.
Good times never seemed so good, as one of England’s adopted anthems for this tournament goes. But it is the suffering that makes it taste all the sweeter.
There is one more step to take. But this is an England side to believe in again.
The defence has been beaten just once – by a brilliant free-kick. The only direct free-kick that’s been scored at these Euros. Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford is already assured of the golden glove award.
He’s faced fewer shots on target than any team in the tournament, just 2.2 per match. That’s testament to Kyle Walker, Harry Maguire, and John Stones in front of him – three players better for the experience of their own England heartbreak in the semi-finals of the World Cup – and a reborn Luke Shaw. Shawberto Carlos, as his team-mates call him!