The sense of disappointment must’ve been palpable as Gareth Southgate gathered his England squad in a huddle after their crushing defeat by Italy in the Euro 2020 final.
Wembley had already begun to empty but the manager seized the moment to drill into his players just what they meant to him after a month long tournament in which they came within a whisker of winning.
“He just said to keep our heads up,” Luke Shaw was quoted as saying by The Sun.
“He also said what a fantastic group everyone is a part of and of course things are going in the right direction. The squad in general, the togetherness, is definitely there.
“You could seen that even after the game and that huddle and the way we were with the lads who missed.”
Though Southgate’s message might well have fallen on deaf ears, it’s a measure of the man that he was willing to console every player, who had given so much to him personally and to the England cause.
The feeling would appear to be mutual, with players ostensibly willing to run through brick walls for a manager that has changed the whole dynamic as to what it means to be an England manager in the modern era.