It would be an understatement to say England fans are feeling a little under the weather this morning.
But Gareth Southgate‘s young squad, who are brimming with talent and have made magic on the pitch this Euro 2020, can now begin to write their own chapter for England after 55 years of heartache.
As captain Harry Kane said following the agonising loss against Italy, England has to “build belief from this, we have a great young squad”. Best believe it.
Putting heartbreak to one side, here are five reasons to feel positive today…
Young players, bright future
The heroic England squad, who played in their first final at Wembley on Sunday since the 1966 World Cup, have an average age of just 25 – the second youngest in the tournament behind Turkey.
So it’s arguable that England’s bright-eyed and bushy-tailed youngsters have the potential to make a similar run or even bring it home at the next World Cup with the majority of this team.
Footballers are said to be at their peak between the ages of 27 and 29 according to World Cup stats.
The ideal age to play in the World Cup is 27.5 – the average of the winning teams in the 19 World Cup finals from 1930 to 2010.
With gifted young players including Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho, Jude Bellingham, Declan Rice, Bukayo Saka, Mason Mount and Marcus Rashford all aged between 19 and 23, imagine how great they could be by the next World Cup…
…And they only have to wait until next year to put things right
England fans don’t have to wait five years to get excited about this team again – with the 2022 World Cup held in Qatar next year in November and December.
This means England will have the same squad as this year with a season’s worth of experience. Now that’s something to smile about.
England is in a qualifying group with Hungary, Poland, Albania, Andorra and San Marino.
The team have won all three fixtures they have played so far, most recently a 2-1 victory over Poland in March, resulting in them landing top spot in the group.
This squad has restored pride in the country
Despite the Three Lions losing the big shiny trophy to Italy after a gruelling 90 minutes, extra time and penalties (we didn’t just hand it to them), many feel that Southgate’s team has given fans something to be genuinely proud of after years of humiliation.
From Raheem Sterling’s consistency, Jack Grealish’s goal-making abilities, Bukayo Saka’s lightning energy and Jordan Pickford’s superhuman saves, just to name a few, Southgate’s squad has restored hope into England fans and changed football as we know it.
They are real contenders now – and a squad to watch.
England have surpassed the ’10-year plan’
When Greg Dyke was elected chairman in 2013 he outlined a 10-year plan.
He said England should aim to reach “at least” the semi-finals of Euro 2020 and the U17 World Cup in 2017 – both of which have come true.
The last bit of his plan was to win the World Cup in 2022.
He said: “The two targets I have for the England team are – one, to at least reach the semi-finals of Euro 2020 and two, win the World Cup in 2022.”
Watch this space.
Fans are back in stadiums
The Euros has been a sign of life returning to normal following the COVID-19 pandemic – with 60,000 fans pouring into Wembley Stadium to cheer on England at the final.
It has seen the biggest crowds gather together under one roof in over a year – and has paved the way for future events to take place safely.
While not everyone has been happy about this, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan defended the decision, saying the requirement of fans to be fully vaccinated or have a negative lateral flow test meant the virus was not being taken into the stadium.
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