England’s biggest European Championship heartbreaks ahead of Euro 2024 | Football

England came agonisingly close last time out (Picture: Getty)

It’s fair to say that England have had more than their fair share of heartbreak in their European Championship history.

Whether that be Gazza’s tears in Euro 96, or the gut-wrenching defeat to Italy on penalties three years ago, it’s certainly never dull supporting the Three Lions in the Euros.

Gareth Southgate’s side will be looking to put their long-suffering supporters out of their misery when they take to the field at this summer’s Euro 2024, which is being held in Germany between June 14 and July 14.

The Three Lions and their star-studded squad have been installed as favourites to win the tournament, but in order to do so, they will need to shake off the emotional baggage which comes with the near-misses and failures of their predecessors.

Metro.co.uk takes a look at some of the most agonising moments from England’s complicated relationship with the Euros. Brace yourselves…

England 1-1 Italy (2-3 PENS) – Euro 2020

The night had started so well for England, with Luke Shaw firing in at the back post to send Wembley – and the country – into raptures after just two minutes played in the final.

But the hosts were unable to capitalise on their dream start, with Leonardo Bonucci popping up with the equaliser in the second half.

Italy players celebrate beating England in the Euro 2020 final

England’s miserable penalty shootout record continued in the final (Picture: Getty)

A tense period of extra-time followed, before the game headed to the dreaded spot-kicks under the famous arch.

England nudged ahead after the first two penalties apiece when Andrea Belotti’s effort was saved by Jordan Pickford.

It was all downhill for England from that point onwards with Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho – who were both subbed on specifically for the shootout – and Bukayo Saka all failing from the spot to ensure the trophy headed back to Italy for the second time.

England 1-1 Germany (5-6 PENS) – Euro 96

Euro fever had swept the nation during the dizzying summer of 1996, which saw millions tuning in around the country hoping to watch the Three Lions finally end their 30 years of hurt.

The Euro 96 semi-final had started in similar fashion to the Euro 2020 final, with England ahead through Alan Shearer after just three minutes before Germany restored parity just under 15 minutes later with Stefan Kuntz.

Gareth Southgate reacts to missing a penalty for England in the Euros

Southgate’s emotions have gone through the wringer with England (Picture: Getty)

The new Golden Goal concept was in play during extra-time, and England almost won it in the extra 30 minutes when Darren Anderton turned a Steve McManaman cross onto the woodwork, before Paul Gascoigne missed a tap-in at full stretch in the six-yard box.

The rest is history, with Southgate missing his penalty when the scores were tied at 5-5 in the shootout, leaving Andreas Moller free to break English hearts with his decisive kick thereafter.

England 2-2 Portugal (5-6 PENS) – Euro 2004

The Three Lions, once again, had taken an early lead with Michael Owen striking inside four minutes to silence the home Portuguese crowd in their quarter-final clash in Lisbon.

The game seemingly changed when Wayne Rooney was forced off with a broken foot later in the first half, with a blunt England pegged back when Helder Postiga diverted home a cross with just seven minutes left on the clock.

Ricardo saves a penalty for Portugal against England in the Euros

Ricardo’s heroics won it for Portugal (Picture: Getty)

England controversially had a goal ruled out just minutes later when John Terry was adjudged to have fouled goalkeeper Ricardo in the build-up to Sol Campbell’s close-range header.

Rui Costa put Portugal ahead with 10 minutes remaining of extra-time but England dug deep to draw level through Frank Lampard five minutes later.

The penalty shootout saw one of the most bizarre acts of gamesmanship in Euros history when Ricardo took off his gloves before saving Darius Vassell’s effort – before adding insult to injury by immediately stepping up to score the winner to dump England out of Euro 2004.

England 1-2 Iceland – Euro 2016

England, on paper, had an ‘easy’ looking Round of 16 clash against Iceland, but the occasion quickly turned into a Nice nightmare in the South of France.

Wayne Rooney dispatched an early penalty after four minutes to set England seemingly on their way, but incredibly they found themselves 2-1 down just 15 minutes later.

Iceland celebrate beating England at Euro 2016

England were embarrassed by Iceland (Picture: Getty)

Ragnar Sigurdsson bundled home from close range following a trademark Icelandic long throw, before Joe Hart meekly let Kolbeinn Sigthorsson’s shot squeeze through his hands.

England had 70 minutes to rescue the game but they could barely muster a chance against the team ranked 34th in the world and with a population of just under 400,000.

Roy Hodgson resigned as manager immediately after the match in what is regarded as one of the most shameful performances in England’s long history.

England 0-0 Italy (2-4 PENS) – Euro 2012

The two sides were evenly managed during the opening stages of the quarter-final meeting in Kiev.

However, as the game progressed, the influence of Andrea Pirlo grew, with England reverting to hitting hopeful long balls up to Andy Carroll.

Andrea Pirlo scores for Italy against England at Euro 2012

Pirlo ran the show for Italy before scoring in the penalty shootout (Picture: Getty)

Just like the Euro 2020 final, England took an early lead on penalties after Riccardo Montolivo fluffed his lines for the Azzurri.

The shootout seemed to turn on its head when Pirlo succeeded with his audacious Panenka, coolly slotting down the middle beyond the grasp of a diving Joe Hart.

Ashley Cole and Ashley Young weren’t quite as successful with their kicks, with England crashing out on penalties for the third time in four European Championships.


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