Northern Ireland’s record goalscorer David Healy says that England boss Gareth Southgate and his players should feel proud at how they conducted themselves in the Euro 2020 finals but has admitted he has no sympathy for them following their penalty shoot-out defeat to Italy in Sunday’s decider at Wembley.
The Linfield boss did, however, express his disappointment at the abuse suffered post match by England stars Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, who missed their spot-kicks as Italy triumphed 3-2 on penalties following a compelling 1-1 draw after extra-time.
“Nobody wants abuse. Nobody misses a chance or makes a mistake because they want to. It’s all part of the game and that’s why results vary,” said Healy, who will forever be remembered for his winning goal against England in a World Cup qualifier at Windsor Park in 2005.
“I was disappointed for some of the younger players putting themselves on the penalties and being given the opportunity to then miss in that arena where the world is watching and that includes the critics, the cynics and the nasty people on social media waiting for something like that to happen on Sunday. That’s disappointing.
“For me as a manager I think that Gareth Southgate and his players should take a lot of pride and pats on the back for how they handled themselves in the tournament.
“Gareth Southgate is a magnificent manager and speaks well and does his job very thoroughly and I’m sure England will bounce back.”
On the final itself and if he had sympathy for the England team just failing to end 55 years of hurt, Healy, a scorer of 36 international goals, said: “Do I feel sympathy? Not really, no. I would have been okay had England won but I thought Italy were deserved winners.
“They were the better team after losing a goal early on. After 15 or 20 minutes England were the top team but with 30 minutes to go it was Italy on top and don’t forget going into the final they hadn’t been beaten for 33 games. So, do I have sympathy with England? No.”
As for the drama-filled penalty shoot-out, Healy said: “You can do as much homework and you hear that England brought people in to help with penalty takers and their methods and techniques and what way they would go but it is all on the night.
“I wouldn’t be a big fan of the stop start slow stutter. I like my penalty takers to make their mind up and have a decent run up at it and hopefully pick the right side. It just wasn’t to be for England at the weekend.”
Linfield manager David Healy has insisted that his team will go all out to win tonight’s Champions League tie against Zalgiris Vilnius at Windsor Park in normal time rather than risk playing for penalties.