England fans have been urged to ‘keep the faith’ and that the ‘future is bright’ after a heartbreaking quarter-final loss to France.
Gareth Southgate’s men came out of the World Cup with a 2-1 defeat at the Al Bayt Stadium, despite having more ball possession and twice as many shots taken by their opponents.
England came back into the game after Aurélien Tchouameni’s wide opener with Harry Kane scoring from the spot past Olivier Giroud’s striker.
Things could have been very different though, with Kane missing another penalty in the 85th minute, while referee Wilton Sampaio was criticized for a number of questionable decisions.
Despite the crushing defeat, England once again showed plenty of promise in their Southgate days, with deep runs in major tournaments now expected rather than a rarity.
And on top of that, world-class youngsters such as Jude Bellingham and Phil Foden suggest it’s far from the end of the road, as Kyle Walker was keen to point out when speaking to talkSPORT.
The Manchester City defender managed to shut out France star Kylian Mbappe for the full 90 minutes and found it easy to look at the positives.
“What a talented group of guys this group is,” he said. “I came into this dressing room at 19, under Fabio Capello, this group came in leaps and bounds.
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“This team will be special, I can assure you of that. It could be the next tournament, it could be the tournament after.
“But the group of guys we have in there, the leaders we have in there, the maturity that is showing – it will be a really exciting time for English football.
“We apologize, we wanted to win this. But let’s look to the future. The future is bright, I can assure you.
England legend Stuart Pearce agreed with Walker and also felt that this team was different from the top teams he had played for.
“First of all, I have to pay tribute to the French, they won the game. But I think it ends there,” the talkSPORT commentator said.
“England were the better team, I think we gave them too much respect and they scored a goal and from that moment I thought England were the better team.
“They put more pressure on the opponent, they created more chances, Walker has dealt with Mbappe as well as anyone in this World Cup.
“I thought Bellingham and [Jordan] Henderson was a fantastic driving force in the center of midfield. Kane was magnificent, it was one of his best games for England.
“If I walked into the dressing room now, I would say ‘We’re going to have to realize what a good team we are’.
“I saw Henderson play disrespect for the opposition, Bellingham played disrespect for the opposition, I think if a few others played disrespect for the opposition we would have won the game today and I say that politely..
“We faced the world champions and came out better. We’re all disgusted but there’s so much to work with and so much to work on to make us a better team, it’s really important that we stick with that and keep the faith.
“That England team, six or eight years ago would have lost at least 3-0, instead of overcoming the French and creating more chances, our captain is about to take the penalty and you would give him your square.
“I thought it would be 2-2 and we would go on to win the game, in the end, and you can’t ask for more than the ball from the penalty spot to level things up when you’re the better team.”
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