The football that never came home but went to Rome

England’s Bukayo Saka stands dejected after missing from the penalty spot during the shoot out following the UEFA Euro 2020 Final at Wembley Stadium, London. Picture date: Sunday July 11, 2021.

The hype over the weekend was “It’s coming home”. The England press already gave the Euros trophy to England before the final. Schools declared holidays for their students and Wembley was in a frenzy for the final.

After 120 minutes of football, the game was resolved on penalties with Italy carrying the trophy at the end of the day. It never came home. It’s now in Rome

What went wrong?

England go into every tournament with the we are ready to win it belief. They end up getting everything wrong from the basic to the most technical aspect of football.

England players have often been accused of not playing well for the national team compared to their club side. Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski analysed this a long time ago in their book soccernomics that looks at why England loses.

The chief reason they fail to win according to soccernomics is “Closed to Innovations: English Soccer’s Small Network”. England are the only country that believes foreigners import are a detriment to their national team football. Pundits often point out the hundreds of foreigners who play in the Premier League (EPL). Steven Gerrard pointed out before England lost to Croatia and failed to Euro 2008: “I think there is a risk of too many foreign players coming over, which would affect our national team eventually if it’s not already. It is important we keep producing players”

England has the EPL, Capital one cup, FA cup, and Community shield coupled with UEFA champions league, Europa league, and the UEFA Super cup. This means they have more tiring legs playing for the national team.

Italy vs England minutes statistics

A look at the starting eleven in the Euros 2020 final corroborate this information. The England national team has an average age of 26 years but played more minutes than their Italian opponents. England starting eleven played a total of 38272 minutes compared to Italy’s 33255. This means an extra 456 minutes.

You can’t expect a player with that number of minutes to perform well for the country. This is why they perform like a cheap battery: play excellent in the first half and die off in the second half.

Small network

A look at the player clubs shows that the three lions know little of external football. Trippier is the only non-EPL player in the starting eleven which accounts for a measly 9%. This compared to Italy’s 3 non-Serie A players which is 27% shows that English football need to diversify. Jorginho and Veratti the main players in the Italy midfield plys their trade for Chelsea and PSG compared to Trippier who has no huge influence in the team.


England need to cancel the capital one cup and focus on the other cups. It will reduce the burden on the players and make them perform effectively for the national team. They should encourage their players to go overseas. Other league players should be appreciated and used effectively (Jadon Sancho). Players like Harry Kane, Sterling, and Grealish should be plying their trade in foreign leagues. This will make them learn about other culture and help the three lions grow.

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