Revealed: How partying with family members helped England squad deal with Euros heartache in hours after Italy defeat

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3-min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
 (Instagram)
(Instagram)

England’s players danced a conga behind Harry Maguire in the early hours of Monday morning as they tried to put the pain of their Euros final defeat behind them.

A function had already been arranged at the Hilton Hotel opposite Wembley, where it was hoped a glorious celebration could be staged.

Instead, for those who opted to join families and loved ones, it was a bitter-sweet occasion; a release after the intensity of a month-long tournament and the training camp before it, but also acknowledgement of their achievement in reaching only the nation’s second-ever final. Others just wanted to return to The Grove, the hotel that had been their pre-match HQ.

At the Hilton, players’ tables were marked out by place cards with their shirt numbers on, while highlights on the tournament were shown on big screens. Bud Light was on offer again, just as it had been for the barbecue with Ed Sheeran, while the players were still dressed in their tracksuits. England’s record goalscorer Wayne Rooney joined them for some of the evening.

The conga, led by Maguire, showed spirits remained high, even in the disappointment of their penalty shootout defeat by the Italians.

Gareth Southgate’s “official” Euros debrief came via a huddle on the pitch after Bukayo Saka’s saved penalty condemned England to at least 18 more months of hurt.

His message was simple and genuine: the players should keep their heads held high. Their unity and selflessness had been key to what was so nearly a glorious summer.

Southgate was grateful to them; they had made this tournament a joy to be part of. He was, no doubt, also grateful for Prince William’s presence in a sombre changing room afterwards.

The final penalty in the shootout was taken shortly before 11pm, with the last of the players leaving Wembley at 1am.

The Duke of Cambridge echoed Southgate’s sentiments, saying just a few words to express his pride in their achievements. Southgate would make a point of further addressing every member of his squad individually as they made their way out of the dressing room, something he felt was important before the group disbanded.

The manager had spoken before of this specific bunch never getting this opportunity again, so the moment needed to be marked.

While a number headed to the Hilton, others preferred to return to The Grove with staff. By the time Southgate emerged for his post-tournament media conference yesterday morning, the players had already departed, ready for well-earned breaks, when they will be given around three weeks off before rejoining their clubs for pre-season training.

Jude Bellingham, Mason Mount and Jordan Henderson all said goodbye to hotel staff as they headed off.

The toll the tournament had taken on Southgate was clear. He spoke of the feeling of having his stomach “ripped out” and needing a rest. Perhaps, then, his family will reprise the game they created following the 2018 World Cup when taking photos of their dad whenever they found him nodding off while on holiday.

A full review is to come and Southgate is sure to feel elements of regret after the way the final unfolded.

Was he too cautious with this starting XI? Did he wait too long to make his first change? And was he wrong to place penalty duties in the hands of two players brought on right at the death and another as inexperienced as Saka?

They are questions for another day. For now, Southgate and his players will go their separate ways until a new journey begins when he selects his next squad in September.

Read More

FA hope to persuade Gareth Southgate to stay on as England manager beyond 2022 World Cup

England captain Harry Kane blasts fans who targeted black players with racist abuse: ‘We don’t want you’

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting