Roy Hodgson hailed the effort and commitment of his England players after they were knocked out of Euro 2012 by Italy on penalties.
England managed to hold out for 120 minutes against an Italian side which dominated the quarter-final at the Olympic Stadium, Kiev.
But they were condemned to more penalty heartache, with Alessandro Diamanti converting the winning kick to give Italy a 4-2 win in the shootout.
Despite the defeat, Hodgson was keen to stress his pride in the performance of his England players, and thanked the fans who have followed the team across Poland and Ukraine throughout the tournament.
“The players really fought hard,” Hodgson told the BBC.
“The fans appreciated it, they were magnificent throughout, I have never seen such enormous support. With the penalties I was rather hoping that it was our tournament to win one. The practising didn’t help too much.
“The five takers we have are very good ones. We have been doing it in training and Ashley Cole and Ashley Young have been smashing them in on a regular basis.
“But you can’t reproduce the tired legs, you can’t reproduce the pressure, you can’t reproduce the nervous tension. (The Italians) stood up to it better than we did. Pirlo’s penalty was the perfect example.”
In spite of their disappointing exit, Hodgson believes England can leave the competition with pride after exceeding the expectations of many observers.
“I thought the chances were there for both teams, it was just who was going to take them,” he said.
“We started to tire badly and we couldn’t manage it. If we had conceded at the end of 90 minutes or in extra-time it would have been less cruel. But I think we can go out with our head held high.”
Italy now progress to face Germany in the semi-finals at the National Stadium, Warsaw, on Thursday.
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!