Italy Wins Euro 2020, Leaving England in Shocked Silence


LONDON – There was noise all day. The songs began in the early morning when the first few hundred fans appeared on Wembley Way with flags flying behind them. They echoed throughout the afternoon, tens and then a hundred thousand more joined in, broken glass crackling under the feet.

The songs started as soon as the train doors opened at Wembley Park tube station, escalated as hymns to Gareth Southgate and Harry Maguire, renditions of “Three Lions” and “Sweet Caroline” and the stadium loomed over the horizon. until it looks like it’s coming out of the building itself.

Inside, the noise resounds around, gathering strength as it echoes back and forth as it appears. England had a kind of lucid dream: when Luke Shaw scored and the home team was in charge of the game. European championship finished in two minutes and everything was coming home more than half a century later.

There was a clamor as Leonardo Bonucci’s equalizer pierced the national trance as Italy tamed England’s abandonment and control of the ball and returned. This is what happens when individual nerves bounce around and collide with tens of thousands of nerves: the energy produced is converted at some atomic level and released as noise.

Before the overtime there was noise, Wembley was jumping and bouncing because what else can you do? There was noise before the penalty shootout, the possibility that bothered England more than any other. It was a noisy day. There has been a period in the last few weeks where the UK has come closer to ending what it sees itself. his painful years, a month of noise.

Yet what everyone at Wembley will remember is that whenever they let – when they can – what will bring their minds back to this day, this moment, is not the noise but the sudden disappearance. instant absence. For so long no sound will resound: the oppressive, overwhelming sound of a stadium, a country, a country that had dreamed and has now begun, wildly awakened. to the cold light of day.

Solipsism doesn’t fully account for Britain’s many and varied frustrations over the past 55 years, but it’s certainly a contributing factor. Before each tournament, England asserts the belief that it is the team, the nation, that has real agency: the sense that England’s success will ultimately depend solely on its own actions. England was not beaten by a rival; loses itself.

This, as it happens, may be the first time theory has gotten the ring of truth. England hosted more games than any other country Euro 2020. Wembley hosted both the semi-finals and the final. More importantly, Southgate had at his disposal a roster of young talent, trained in club teams by the best coaches in the world, who were the envy of every other team here, except perhaps France. This was a tournament England should have won.

In this narrative of Euro 2020, Italy was somewhere between a subplot and a supporting cast. Yet this solipsism speaks. Perhaps this tournament was never about England, he was desperately looking for the long-awaited moment of salvation. Perhaps the main character was Italy from the very beginning.

Italy’s journey certainly doesn’t have as big of a historical sweep as England’s – it just won the World Cup 15 years ago and it’s not the only one in its cabinet – but perhaps the story is about a country that didn’t actually qualify. For the World Cup in 2018, it seemed like football culture had let go of its stale, moribund growth that seemed to be left behind. Instead, he has become a champion once again in just three years.

Roberto Mancini’s Italy illuminated this tournament at every opportunity: enthusiasm and show swept the group stage and grit and nerve where he reached the final. And how he took control of someone else’s dream against a team with deeper resources and backed by a partisan crowd.

In those first few minutes at Wembley on Sunday, as Leicester Square was plunged into chaos and the barriers around Wembley came under attack again and again, when England felt like they were in the grip of a mass out-of-body experience, all of Italy could be swept away by ticketless fans who didn’t want to stand outside while history was being made.

The noise and energy made the stadium feel a bit wild, edgy and wild, and Mancini’s team seemed frozen. England at times looked like they could outsmart their opponent, as if his story was so compelling that it was irresistible. But gradually, almost imperceptibly, Italy settled. Marco Verratti passes the ball to Jorginho. Jorginho gave it back. Bonucci and his eerie partner, Giorgio Chiellini, tinkered with it while it was there and zipped the field when it wasn’t.

He felt that England had lost the initiative, but really Italy was taking it. Federico Chiesa saves his low and hard shot from Jordan Pickford. England fell a little further. Italy smelling blood. Bonucci leveled the score, a mixed goal relied more on determination than skill, which suited Italy’s virtues perfectly.

Extra time appeared. Mancini’s team would keep England waiting no matter what. The clock ticked and the possibility of penalties appeared on the horizon. A final test for England, a last ghost to face and a last ray of hope. Andrea Belotti was the first to miss Italy in the conflict. Wembley was ecstatic. He roared with the same old burning, unleashing his nerves into the night sky.

All England had to do was score goals. Two hours later, exactly one month later, 55 years later, he became the master of his destiny. There and then, it was all about England. Marcus Rashford stepped forward. He’s only been on the field for a few minutes, being introduced specifically for the penalty shootout.

As he approached the ball, he slowed down and tried to persuade Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma to explain his intentions. Donnarumma did not move. Rashford slowed even more. Donnarumma remained motionless, bluffing. Rashford reached the ball and had to hit it. It tilted to the left. He hit the foot of the pole. And at that moment, the trance, the spell that consumed a country, was broken.

Jadon Sancho also missed the shot that Donnarumma saved. But Italy’s penalty specialist Jorginho did the same when offered the chance to win the match. For a moment, England had a delay. Perhaps his wait will soon be over. Maybe the dream was still alive. Bukayo SakaThe youngest member of Southgate’s crew stepped forward. England had another chance.

And then, just like that, it’s over. Inside Wembley, the clamorous noises could still be heard from the crowded rows clad in blue at the opposite end of the field. But their voices were muffled, distant, as if they were from another dimension or from a future we shouldn’t have known.

The players of Italy, now the European champions, fell to their knees in surprise and joy. England’s players looked at the stadium blankly, miserable and miserable, unable to understand that the tournament where everything changed, did not change the most important thing, the waiting continued. And the stadium, after all that noise, after all these songs, after all these dreams, fell silent, stunned, and looked straight back.


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