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EURO 2020 Final

Updated: Aug 4, 2023

Hi everyone,

I hope you are all well.

Unless you have been living under a rock you would be aware that the EURO 2020 tournament took place this summer, and what a tournament it was. England had a fantastic journey only conceding 2 goals in normal time, beating Germany 2-0 at Wembley, and ultimately being in the final making history! I wasn’t able to get tickets for any of the England games leading up to the final, but on Saturday (the day before the final) my step dad gave me the news that we would be attending the final! We spend the whole day in the que to get the tickets, but it was very worth it, and we were able to witness our team in a final at Wembley. Because it was a night game, we wanted to get a hotel nearby, so we didn’t have to worry able the stress of driving home so late, this went smoothly and there was one empty room in a hotel 2 miles from the stadium.

We drove up there at around midday on Sunday, the nerves were kicking in on the route up, but we had ‘It’s Coming Home’ blaring out the speakers whist driving through London. People on the paths wearing their England shirts, you could see how united the country was. We arrived at the hotel at about 3pm and checked in. We were very naive to think my mum (who was staying at the hotel for the game) could drop me and my stepdad near the stadium, but because we had a parking space, she was not able to leave, we ordered a WAV Uber which again went very smoothly. We were dropped off at the nearest taxi drop of point, and we had to walk about 20 minutes round to the stadium. Originally, we was going to walk down Wembley Way to get to the stadium, but many people warned us it was a bad idea and when we eventually got there we realised it was too dangerous to walk down, people were throwing glass bottles, letting of fireworks and flares, it was not a nice place to be in; so we had to walk the long way round. When we got there, there was a large group of people standing behind a barrier as if waiting for someone, we asked the security who informed us the team bus was going to come through there, this was at 4PM. The bus didn’t actually arrive until 6.45 so we were waiting a while but decided we wanted to stay. During the wait the group got larger and because of this a UEFA employee allowed us to go into a separate area, away from the fans for safety. As you may have seen in the news lots of fans without tickets managed to get into the stadium, we witnessed a herd of people running up the stairs, beating up security and making their way into the stadium, it was a pretty scary time as the security was heavily outnumbered by the fans. There was lots of VIP’s walking past the fans including David James, Alex Scott, David Moyes, and many others. The players bus finally arrived and was welcomed by a huge cheer from the awaiting England fans, I managed to see Reece James, Ben White, and Declan Rice through the window.

After the long wait we walked round to our seat, on route we saw many fans trying to work out a way in over the barriers but this time the security was more prepared. Because we came in from a different way, we weren’t sure where our seat was, but the stewards were helpful in directing us. On the way round I bumped into my friend Owen who was also attending the game. When we finally made it round to the entrance it was pretty stressful getting in, some fans with no tickets had been running through the disabled entrance and the security was dealing with them near the door. The security wasn’t as high as expected, like at other games we have to be checked before going in but we were just let straight in, but I can imagine how much pressure was on them that night. When we made it to the concourse there were hundreds of fans belting their hearts out with England chants, it’s was lovely to see how together they all were, it was pretty easy to get through them as they gave us a kind of guard of honour letting us through the middle.

We finally made it to our seat at about 7 and we had an amazing view, we were on the top tier, I had sat on this level before so knew what to expect, but it was my step dads first time at Wembley with me. The time flew and before we knew it the game was starting. Because it was a final there was a closing ceremony before the game. As the fans started coming in it was getting harder and harder to see as they were standing up in front of us. As the players walked out Sweet Caroline was played by the DJ to hype up the fans. The national anthems began with Italy starting, the English fans booed once again, I do not agree with this in the slightest and find it extremely disrespectful, this led to England once again being fined. Up next was the English national anthem and it echoed around the walls of the stadium, 60,000+ people singing their hearts out. This was the biggest event I had entered post COVID so loved being back to some normality.

The one change made to the starting line-up was Trippier coming in to replace Saka, who has had a fantastic first tournament. The ball was delivered onto the pitch by a remote-control car, and the players were ready to begin. All players took the knee before kick-off, the whistle blew, and the game began. The crowd was immediately behind the boys singing their chants. Italy was gifted an early corner after a loose ball back to Pickford from Maguire, but it was easily dealt with by Maguire himself. This then led to the unthinkable. England were able to quickly counter as Kane released Trippier down the right side, he made a beautiful cross to the back post where Shaw was awaiting and lashed a superb unstoppable volley past the Italian goalkeeper, for his first England goal, making it 1-0 to us in the space of 2 minutes!! This was the fasted ever goal in a European championship final! The crowd erupted as the players ran over the fans to celebrate, we missed all this as the fans in front jumped up but was able to see pictures after the game, it was a dream start so no complaining from us. Italy was given the chance to immediately respond after being awarded a free kick on the edge of the box, they did not take this and sent the ball flying over the bar, of course the England fans were cheering every mistake. Although we were playing a 5 at the back, the early attacking threat was coming from the wingbacks Walker and Trippier. Another chance was created by England in the 12th minute as Trippier crossed the ball into the centre where Sterling awaited, but he could not get on the end of it, it was put out by an Italian defender for our first corner of the game. The rain started to pour, but this was definitely not reflecting the current mood of the England fans or players. England started the game very strong creating chance after chance, but sadly none were taken. For once as a football fan, I was able to witness the luck and talent actually be on our side. Our back line was very comfortable, solid, and together holding a high line often catching Italian players offside. At the half hour mark Italy started to become more dominant with the ball, blocking England in their defensive third, but there was no need to panic, and they continued to deal with the threat. There was a late penalty shout for England as Sterling went down in the box, but the referee ignored this. The closing stages of the first half had chances for both teams but the defences were able to comfortably deal with them.

The first half ended and England were winning in a final after 55 years! During half time my step dad went into the concourse to get some drinks, I stayed in the seat with the steward keeping an eye, as I did not want to tackle the herd of people.

The second half began, and there were no changes for either team. England only had 45 minutes to hold on. Italy’s Barela got the first yellow card of the game after fouling Kane. Similarly, to the first half, there was another penalty shout after Sterling went down, England fans and players appealed but again it was ignored by the ref, there were many unfair incidents the ref didn’t give to England but this one was the right call. Italy got an early free kick after Sterling’s eagerness got the better of him and led to giving a foul out, but once again it went straight over the bar into the Italian fans. Walkers incredible pace helped us many times during the game, including in the 52nd minute where he was able to beat his man and calmly head the ball back to Pickford. In the 62nd minute Pickford was called to action to make a fantastic save after a strong effort towards the bottom corner. England didn't look anywhere near the quality they did in the first half, and we had to wait till the 62nd minute to get our first shot on target after our goal, but it was met by a fingertip save. Italy looked very threatening and in the 67th minute they got their arguably deserved goal, England had the chance to clear the ball many times from the corner but after a save from Pickford onto the post, the ball bounced back out into the path of Bonucci for a simple tap in. It was now 1-1 with just over 20 minutes remaining. At this moment I was having slight Deja vu after the defeat to Croatia in 2018, after we scored early. The momentum was now with Italy and England were dropping back inviting the pressure onto themselves. In the 70th minute the first England sub was made with Saka coming on in replace of Trippier, seemed as though we were hoping to go more attacking with the 4-3-3 to avoid extra time. Our second sub came in the 76th minute with Henderson coming on in replace of Rice, this was questionable because A) Rice was having a brilliant game and B) he is able to take penalties if it got to that stage. It was getting very intense in the stands every time the ball was in Italy’s favour, which was the majority of the second half! England started to look more up for it in the closing stages of the game, Mount’s cutback to Saka wasn't accurate enough but there was potential in the play. There was 6 minutes added on, although the crowd wasn’t as loud as expected they were still being the boys trying to motivate them. Italy was pretty dominate in this time, but in the 90+6th minute, Saka seemed to be through but was tugged back by the shirt by Chiellini resulting in a yellow card, that could have been our chance! But sadly, that was it for the game and it was only extra time! England were poor in the second half creating nothing, so we were lucky to get through with a draw.

We had an early chance in the extra time period as Henderson played a ball into Sterling, but he took too long to get set and the defender was able to put it out for a corner. The corner, which was taken by Shaw, was cleared out to Philips who was 25 yards out, the crowd encouraged him to shoot and although he caught it well the ball was sent past the post. The next England sub came in the 100th minute with Jack Grealish entering the pitch in replace of Mount, the two fan favourites both got great receptions from the English fans, ‘super Jacky Grealish’ echoing around the stadium. The Italians were instantly surrounding Grealish whenever he was on the ball, showing how influential he is, in my opinion he should have been on much earlier to have time to make an impact. The half ended with a free kick to England, but nothing came of it. That 15-minute period was much stronger for England, but we still needed to improve to prevent penalties.

The first England booking came in the 106th minute, for Harry Maguire after a clumsy foul leading to a free kick. In the 109th minute Stones came close to putting England in front, but the attempt was punched clear by Donnarumma. For the first time since the game England looked to back to being dominate after the introduction of Grealish. Another dirty foul from the Italians, this time it was Jorginho stomping on the thigh of Grealish, he’s lucky to only see a yellow card, fortunately Jack was able to continue; throughout the whole game the Italians were very dirty and cheated their way to a few decisions from the ref, but they have a reputation for that. Phillips took the free kick, but it was wasted and easy for the keeper to collect. The final 2 subs came for England in the 120th minute - Marcus Rashford in replace of Kyle Walker, and Jadon Sancho in replace of Jordan Henderson, Rashford was momentarily playing right back! There were 3 minutes of added time on the end, but nothing was created by either team.

It was now time for penalties! England have a bad history of pens, was it time for history to be rewritten? The first penalty was Berardi for Italy who sent Pickford the wrong way, making it 1-0. Next up was captain Harry Kane for England finding the back of the net, making it 1-1. Next for Italy was Belotti who took a long run up, allowing Pickford to get down and make a save keeping it at 1-1, the stadium erupted!! Up next for England was Maguire, who with a brilliant pen found the back of the net, giving England a 2-1 advantage. Bonucci stepped up for Italy and comfortably netted the ball making it 2-2. Rashford was next up for England, he stepped up with a long run up and sadly hit the outside of the post, keeping it 2-2. Bernarderschi scored Italy’s next goal making of 3-2. Up next for England was Jadon Sancho, his attempt was on target but sadly was saved by the keeper, keeping it 3-2. If you know me on a personal level, you will know Jadon is my favourite player so this completely broke my heart and I didn’t see the final 2 penalties cause I was so upset for him. The final Italy penalty taken by Jorginho was saved by Pickford, the stadium erupted again, meaning the final England penalty was the decider. 19-year-old Bukayo Saka stepped up to take it, he had to score, but sadly his attempt was saved by the keeper, leaving Italy to be the EURO 2020 champions winning 3-2 on pens. Absolute heartbreak for all those involved with England - the players, the staff and the fans, but they should be incredibly proud, and I know the majority of the nation are, of making it too the final and only missing out on penalties! I personally do not agree with Gareth’s choice of penalty takers, 3/5 takers were under the age of 24 with little tournament experience, it’s an incredible amount of pressure to sub 2 of the players on in a final with 3 minutes remaining and expect them take a penalty, I also don’t understand how you can put that amount of pressure on a 19-year-old in his first big tournament to take a decisive penalty! I get that Saka had offered but as a manager he should make a professional judgement to not allow him that pressure.

The racism that has come out of this game is disgusting! It’s a football game, they are simply doing their job and they have to be met by tons of racial messages from their own fans, if anyone let the nation down its not them it’s the fans! It would have taken huge nerve for the 3 boys to put their hand up for a penalty shootout in a final, so they should be congratulated for that, not have their own fans on their backs abusing them. It’s been amazing seeing the overwhelming support they have been receiving both on social media and in real life. I think the way the fans acted throughout the whole tournament was incredibly disrespectful and wouldn’t be surprised if their actions have an impact on the whole nation (banned from games or even the World Cup), but something has to change players can’t continue to be abused.

After the game it was extremely stressful to get back to the hotel, we first had to walk down Wembley Way in the rain, which was packed, and we saw the aftermath of the actions of the fans before the game; there was so much smashed glass, flares and just general rubbish left on the floor, I feel so guilty for the people who have to clear it up, it just shows how much the fans don’t care about the country. I ordered an Uber back to the hotel after leaving the stadium but when we arrived at the destination the car wasn’t there, my mum had to come and pick us up, but the drunk English fans were just acting stupidly in the streets of London, so it was pretty intimidating. If you’re a disabled fan wanting to go to Wembley, I would strongly advise booking a car parking space, because you then have no worry of how you’re getting home; we would have done this but due to the short notice it wasn’t possible. We finally got back to the hotel at 1.30am, that’s when we could soak in the loss and the game.

Finally, I would like to say how thankful I am to my step dad for getting tickets, regardless of the result we still had a great day, witnessing history and feeling immense pride of the England team.

The new Premier League season starts in a few weeks, and I am hoping to attend some pre-season matches so look out for my reports.

Thank you for reading and let me know your thoughts on the game!

Ellie Xx


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