BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Managers at our South London clubs have spoken out in support of Jadon Sancho after his penalty miss for England – and also condemned the abuse aimed at all of the players who failed to convert their spot-kicks in Sunday’s European Championship final.
Kennington-raised Sancho was subbed on in the closing stages of the Wembley showpiece along with Marcus Rashford, a clear tactical ploy by Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate for the shootout.
But England lost 3-2 with Italy keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma saving the attempts by Sancho and Bukayo Saka, while Rashford’s strike clipped the outside of the base of the left post.
Former Crystal Palace defender Southgate described racist abuse aimed at the trio as “unforgivable”. Dulwich Hamlet manager Gavin Rose was friends with Sancho’s father when he was growing up.
“My honest thing is I didn’t want the players to take the kicks when they were going up and that tells you where we are as a society at the moment – not in a good place,” said Rose. “As much as you’re sitting there wanting a team to win, I didn’t want them to be the fall guys.
“It is no surprise in terms of what happened afterwards – the racist abuse. It is so strange because the team, the management and players, did so well and then it was so negative.
“You can’t help wondering if this sort of thing held us back as a nation. It is always in the air and the players are quite tense.”
Rose is also best friends with Rio Ferdinand, who was on punditry duty at the championships.
“He used to say that the [England] camp was tense, and this one looked really good. But you are always, at the back of your mind, thinking they are going to get some abuse. But if someone else who was white had have taken it they would have got something as well.
“I remember David Beckham had it when he got sent off. The problem we have got here is not just a racism problem, it is the fact they want someone to blame.
“When everything is good then everyone is singing and cheering, when it goes wrong them someone has to be the victim. This time it is very much a racist problem and a racist issue.
“But it is the culture of some England fans – that someone has to be victimised. It can’t help the players or management team.”
Millwall manager Gary Rowett said: “If a player is brave enough to take a penalty in a shootout – and is then chosen as one of the five – it is sad that you’re there to be shot at.
“I don’t think anyone deserves abuse just because they haven’t quite managed to score a penalty, it has happened so often [to players] in this Championship.
“For a young player stepping up in front of 80,000 people, and the magnitude of the game, it is so hard to recreate in training – that scenario is always going to be a little bit false. These players should have the backing of the country. They are going to be fabulous players for us down the line. Abuse is not something that anybody should have to accept in today’s society.”
Charlton manager Nigel Adkins was in charge of Southampton when he handed a debut to Luke Shaw, then 16. The left-back impressed for England at the tournament and opened the scoring against the Italians.
“We’re all winners and when you get to a final you want to win it,” said Adkins. “It is a gutwrenching feeling when you don’t. They don’t want to miss a penalty.
“I’ve always talked about the ‘blue line’ [golfer Tiger Woods would mentally cross that imaginary line after taking a shot] and that the following morning you start again.
“Surround them with good people and a safe environment. We’ve got to build them up and keep the belief within them. We need to support them.”
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