Jack Grealish has hit back at criticism levelled at him after the Euro 2020 final, with Bukayo Saka having missed England's fifth and final penalty against Italy in heartbreaking fashion.
England’s hopes of ending a 55-year wait for a major trophy were left in tatters as Italy came from behind to win Euro 2020 following a dramatic penalty shoot-out at Wembley Stadium on Sunday night.
The Azzurri saw spot kicks from Andrea Belotti and Jorginho saved, but Marcus Rashford hit the post and Gianluigi Donnarumma denied Jadon Sancho and the decisive kick from Saka to lead Roberto Mancini’s men to a 3-2 triumph after the game had ended 1-1 following extra time.
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After the 19-year-old Saka missed, Roy Keane was among those who criticised Raheem Sterling and Grealish for not taking a penalty before the Arsenal starlet.
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"If you're (Raheem) Sterling or (Jack) Grealish, you cannot sit there and have a young kid [Saka] go up for a penalty ahead of you, you can't," Keane told ITV.
"You cannot let a shy 19-year-old go up in front of you. They have a lot more experience, Sterling has won trophies, they had to get in front of the young kid and stand up."
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But the Aston Villa captain has now hit back on social media and made it abundantly clear that he wanted to take one, while backing manager Gareth Southgate's decisions.
"I said I wanted to take one!!!!" Grealish said in a tweet. "The gaffer has made so many right decisions through this tournament and he did tonight!
But I won’t have people say that I didn’t want to take a peno when I said I will…
England have won just 22 per cent of their major tournament shootouts, the lowest ratio of any European nation to have been involved in three or more.
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Southgate said that he is immensely proud of his players and they should hold their heads high despite losing the final of Euro 2020. He also took full responsibility for selecting the penalty takers.
"What they have to know is that none of them are on their own," he said in his post-final press conference.
"We win and lose as a team, and the penalty takers are my call. We've worked on them in training. That's my decision. That's not down to the players and tonight it hasn't gone for us, but we know they were the best takers that we had left on the pitch.
"We tried to get those players on to the pitch. We'd already had to take a couple off during the game itself. So, yeah of course it's going to be heartbreaking for the boys, but they're not to blame for that. That's my call as the coach."
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