England boss Gareth Southgate says he needs time to reflect on the future after the Three Lions suffered penalty heartbreak in the final of the European Championships against Italy. Luke Shaw had given the hosts a dream start inside just two minutes when he smashed home at the back post but Leonardo Bonucci levelled things up in the second half before the game went to spot-kicks.
Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka all missed from the spot as five unforgettable weeks ended in devastating fashion.
England could not end 55 years of hurt but they will now feel optimistic that the wait for glory is finally nearing its conclusion.
Next up is the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, where England will look to go one.
Southgate contract is due to expire after that tournament but the FA are willing to offer him a new four-year deal.
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However, it’s clear the Three Lions boss needs some time for reflection before deciding whether to stay on.
“We are all together, they’ve been incredible to work with. They’ve given the country some unbelievable memories,” Southgate told the BBC.
“Tonight will be extremely difficult for us of course, and you have to feel that disappointment because the opportunity to win trophies like this are so rare in your life. But when they reflect on what they’ve done, they should be incredibly proud of themselves.
“At the moment, the pain of the defeat is huge, we wanted to give the nation one more special night and we weren’t able to do it.
“The World Cup feels a million miles away, but this team can be better and can improve, the number of young players we have blooded, they have been fantastic.
“But the future… yeah, I need a bit of time to reflect on that.”
FA chief executive Mark Bellingham recently said Southgate has his “unwavering support” regardless of England’s fortunes at the tournament.
He was set to enter talks over a contract extension with Southgate even if the England team failed to qualify from the group stages.
Bullingham said: “We’ll get into that formal conversation after this tournament. But if you ask me now I’d say ‘yes we’d like him to carry on’ (beyond Qatar).
“He’s doing a brilliant job. I haven’t said that we’ve offered him a new contract. I haven’t gone into the details of that.
“But I think on the basis of everything we’ve seen so far he’s doing a great job and we’d like him to carry on doing that.
“I’m sure his name gets bandied around for every job, but as far as I know he’s really committed to the job and he’s doing it brilliantly.”