We will learn from this – the great lie we tell ourselves after every football heartbreak. But no, I don’t mean the players.
The England squad, who have given us another summer of thrilling ecstasy, will undoubtedly take some hard-earned life lessons away from Euro 2020.
The three young Lions who missed from 12 yards will come back stronger from their penalty despair and this brilliant team will build upon their experiences.
Manager Gareth Southgate, who ignored his doubters to excel at the highest level once again, will bounce back, pick up his talented players and go again at the World Cup next year.
Who knows, football may even come home after all at Qatar 2022.
But no, the lie we’ll tell ourselves is that we, the fans, will learn from this. And that we, as a society, will improve as we hope our team will.
Waking up this morning, I never expected the first headline I saw to be something uplifting, something life-affirming, something positive.
I never expected the first thing I read would be about how these young men gave their all but were denied glory by the narrowest of margins.
No. I instead fully expected something else. The cesspool of the football world to rear it’s ugly head once again. The idiots who emerge at times like these. The social media sheep who relish hate more than anything else.
Racist abuse. Arrests made. London and England splattered with disgrace.
We love the narrative of our country coming together in times of hardship. It so rarely actually happens. Not for all, at least.
Throughout that manic Sunday, as our Lions played their hearts out on the pitch, we saw the worst of football off it.
London streets destroyed in the name of pre-match excitement. Beer-soaked fans breaking into Wembley as if for some divine right to be there.
Abhorrent racist abuse at the final whistle for young men who deserve nothing but the highest praise for the way they have conducted themselves.
Will we learn from this shame? Unless something new and drastic is done, sadly, we won’t.
In the aftermath of Sunday night’s defeat for England and in the all too inevitable social media pile-on, an MP – an actual sitting member of our parliament – joined in to tell Marcus Rashford to stop ‘playing politics’ and start ‘perfecting his game’.
Meanwhile, he and his heroic England team-mates were sent all manner of nonsensical and disgusting abuse.
And for what reason? A backlash from a group who would rather scold and savage above all else.
The same people who claimed the nation would come together after 18 months of COVID hell to rejoice no matter the outcome?
This tournament has been terrific on the field, but so often terrible off it.
The troll-centric condemnation of football’s top stars followed every game with keyboard warriors toasting failure or mistakes with unbridled glee.
Why have we let this become the norm?
True fans – of which there are so many – will help stamp out this mockery and abuse and will lift up our fallen stars.
We have so much to be proud of in this country, not least this England team that has given us so many great memories over the last three years.
They deserve so much more from us.
We must report abuse when we hear it.
We must call out people who act in shameful ways.
We must stop the hate.
We must be better.