Jadon Sancho has insisted “hate will never win” after being racially abused on social media in the wake of England’s heart-breaking Euro 2020 final defeat by Italy.
Sancho and team-mates Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka were targeted online after missing from the spot in the penalty shootout which ultimately finished their side’s hopes of ending a 55-year wait for a trophy at Wembley on Sunday night.
The 21-year-old winger, who apologised for his role in a disappointing conclusion to a dramatic contest, admitted he was not surprised by what followed, but is adamant those responsible cannot be allowed to get away with it.
In a post on his official Instagram account, Sancho said: “I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t see the racial abuse that me and my brothers Marcus and Bukayo received after the game, but sadly it’s nothing new. As a society we need to do better, and hold these people accountable.
“Hate will never win. To all the young people who have received similar abuse, hold your heads up high and keep chasing the dream.”
England, who had seen Luke Shaw’s early goal cancelled out by Leonardo Bonucci during normal time, eventually lost 3-2 on penalties despite keeper Jordan Pickford’s heroics in saving two Italian spot-kicks.
Opposite number Gianluigi Donnarumma matched Pickford’s feat to deny Sancho and Saka after Rashford had hit the post.
Sancho said: “My first thought before going into any football match is always, ‘How can I help my team? How am I going to assist? How am I going to score? How am I going to create chances?’ And that’s exactly what I wanted to do with that penalty, help the team.
These are the moments you dream of as a kid, it is why I play football. These are the pressured situations you want to be under as a footballerEngland winger Jadon Sancho
“I was ready and confident to take it. These are the moments you dream of as a kid, it is why I play football. These are the pressured situations you want to be under as a footballer.
“I’ve scored penalties before at club level, I’ve practised them countless times for both club and country so I picked my corner, but it just wasn’t meant to be this time.”
Sancho revealed he was still coming to terms with Sunday night’s defeat, but has already started to reflect upon the tournament’s successes and the promise of what more there is to come from Gareth Southgate’s squad in the future.
He said: “I’ve had a couple of days to reflect on Sunday’s final and still feel a mix of emotions. I would like to say sorry to all my team-mates, coaching staff and most of all, the fans who I let down.
“This is by far the worst feeling I’ve felt in a long time. It’s hard to even put into words the real feeling, but there were so many positives to take away from this tournament though the defeat will hurt for a long time.
“I am proud of this England team and how we have united the whole nation in what has been a difficult 18 months for so many people. Much as we wanted to win the tournament, we will build and learn from this experience going forward.
“I want to say a massive thank you for all the positive messages and love and support that far outweighed the negative.
“It’s been an honour as always representing England and wearing the Three Lions shirt, and I have no doubt we’ll be back even stronger! Stay safe and see you soon.”