England legend Stuart Pearce refused to be negative after an incredible ride at Euro 2020 and a month that will live long in the memory of fans around the country.
The Three Lions may have fallen at the final hurdle, with Italy prevailing in a shootout at Wembley to seal their second European Championship triumph, and ensure that 55 years of hurt goes on for England.
Nevertheless, Gareth Southgate’s men are improving with every tournament and they will undoubtedly be one of the favourites for next year’s World Cup following their brilliant tournament.
That’s what Jose Mourinho told talkSPORT on Monday morning, saying there should be great ‘hope’ for the future of the team and insisting England will be one of the top challengers at Qatar 2022.
Pearce, who also endured a shootout heartbreak in the semi-finals of Euro 96 alongside Gareth Southgate, joined the show to offer his reaction on what was a gloomy morning for England fans across the country.
But the former defender sent another rally cry to the nation as he expressed his ‘pride’ at how Southgate’s men performed, despite ultimately falling short.
“We’ve gone all the way to the last game, in the end we’ve ended up being beaten by the best side in the tournament,” Pearce told Monday’s talkSPORT Breakfast.
“The only emotion I have is pride in what they have achieved. They have given the nation a massive lift.
“I think the players knew they were so close, but I think it is a fantastic achievement. A major step forward.
“We’ve beaten a decent Czech side, Croatia and the Germans on the way to the final.
“Next year I am looking at the squad of players and thinking that for a lot of players in there this experience will have done them good. Next year we can have a real tilt at the World Cup.”
Southgate has come under fire for selecting youngsters Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka as the penalty takers, with more experienced players such as Jack Grealish and Jordan Henderson not selected in the spot-kick line-up.
Pearce, however, reckons his former Three Lions teammate shouldn’t be criticised due to his successes in shootouts with England in the recent past.
The 78-cap England international added: “When we won the last two penalty shoot-outs before last night nobody was complaining about the process in picking the players to take them.
“Jadon, Marcus and Bukayo look like strong characters. These three boys will spring back.
“Our profession is tough at times but you have got to be resilient.”