Euro 2020: How England’s performance gives us hope to build on – and not just on the pitch

Today the nation wakes, bleary-eyed, having witnessed another crushing pentalty shootout loss for the England team. But we should not be without hope.

Monday, 12th July 2021, 8:17 am
Gareth Southgate pictured shortly after England's penalty shootout defeat / Picture: Getty
Gareth Southgate pictured shortly after England's penalty shootout defeat / Picture: Getty

The moment whistle blew at the end of extra time, memories of two previous semi-finals were unshakeable.

Twice before England were a shootout away from the final – in the Italia 90 World Cup, and six years later at the old Wembley stadium, again losing to the Germans.

This year, they went a step further, reaching the final. And perhaps that makes the loss even harder to swallow.

But long before the heartache, Gareth Southgate’s men had given us something that had been in short supply for many, many months – hope.

Not since 1966 had an England team reached the final of a major competition. Our hopes were realised, at long last, albeit not fully in the end.

But it is that hope that we can build on now. Expectations for the next year’s World Cup will understandably be high, and the nation will be hoping once again.

Many of the players who starred in the Euros are not yet in their prime – what they will be capable of in another year is a mouth-watering prospect.

A Euro 2020 win would have lifted the whole nation, but by reaching the final, and getting so close to victory, the England team has achieved something incredible.

The players have given hope to a whole nation that has lived under Covid’s cloud for almost a year and a half – but not just hope about football.

Locally, last week’s announcement from IKEA, that it was withdrawing plans to open its first Sussex store off the A27 at Lancing, was a blow for some but welcomed by many.

Questions remain over the jobs the store would have brought but there is hope in spades with the developers and local council confident a new business can be found for the site.

There is hope, too, for the town centre. Last week, Worthing Borough Council signalled its intentions to spend more than £8million on buying the Teville Gate site, with a view to kick-starting its redevelopment.

The council also announced plans to rejuvenate the Montague Place and create a link between the seafront and shopping precinct. All that is on top of plans for Union Place, the recently reopened library, which hosts a community hub, and more.

And there are hopes, too, for a future with fewer restrictions on our everyday lives and, thanks to the vaccination programme and people’s efforts over the past 18 months, hopes for fewer Covid cases and fewer people being taken from us too soon.

What is there without hope? England’s performance at the Euros, even in defeat, serves as a reminder of how powerful hope can be – and not just for football.