Rio Ferdinand defended Manchester United strikers Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho after both players missed their shots on goal in England’s shootout loss to Italy in the Euro 2020 final.
Rashford followed Harry Maguire’s successful kick to the post, before Sancho, who is set to move to Old Trafford from Borussia Dortmund this summer, saw his effort saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma.
The PSG goalkeeper, who was named UEFA’s player of the tournament, then saved Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka’s fifth shot on goal, winning the European Championship for the Azzurri.
The three players were not only criticized for their failures, but were also victims of racist abuse on social media as a result of the result.
Ferdinand said England players all deserve “great credit” for their role in driving the morale of the nation throughout the tournament, which should not be overshadowed by the manner of defeat.
“It’s a huge disappointment, but the fans were applauding our players and they brought us a joy that most people, certainly my generation and below, have never felt watching an England team,” said the Manchester United legend on the BBC.
“They raised this country when we needed it, the morale of this country after the pandemic we went through, so they owe it a lot of credit. It’s a tough game, tough when you get to that point, penalties are hard to win, so it’s a painful and painful way to lose it.
“It’s crazy because I was extremely confident going into this game because of what they’ve been doing throughout this tournament, how they’ve grown throughout the tournament, not just as as individuals but as a team, and they improved their reputation.
“But it must be said that the experience, the cunning old foxes of the Italian team, by hook or by crook, they were going to cross the line and they were fabulous in every element of their game. When it comes to shooting. on goal it’s a 50/50 toss and when it comes to Donnarumma he’s a giant of a keeper. “
England manager Gareth Southgate has come under fire in many circles for his handling of the game, including replacing Sancho and Rashford moments before the shootout.
“It’s been happening for years,” Ferdinand said of the late replacements. “People put in players, maybe not that late, but towards the end in the last five, four, three minutes. The players enter and continue as penalty takers. Rashford is a recognized penalty taker for Man United. It happens. “
The former England center-back doesn’t think the two United players deserve to be blamed for England’s painful loss, noting that some of the sport’s biggest names have missed 12 meters in similar circumstances.
“When you look at the tournament years of football, it was the biggest and the best players who missed the penalties. These players are young children so they have to watch this. It’s a big request but these two boys would have said ‘put me there’, they had the character to say ‘put me there’.
“There is no way anyone can point the finger and blame anyone. Penalty shootout is a lottery and again you have to be brave. I have seen seasoned players with hundreds of games under their belt will turn away from a penalty and say ‘no, I don’t want to be one of the takers’. “