Wayne Rooney insists England can “hold their heads high” despite suffering more penalty shoot-out heartbreak when losing their Euro 2012 quarter-final with Italy in the Olympic Stadium last night.
Roy Hodgson’s side suffered the same fate as the England teams of 1990, 1996, 1998, 2004 and 2006 in exiting major tournaments on penalties.
After a goalless 120 minutes, Ashley Young hit the crossbar and Ashley Cole’s shot was saved by Gianluigi Buffon as England were beaten 4-2 on spot-kicks.
Rooney said: “It was a horrible way to go out. We are all gutted. It was a tough game and we all worked hard.
“To lose on penalties is such a horrible feeling for everyone.
“But we can hold our heads up high. There are a lot of young players in the squad and that experience will help them in the next tournament.”
Skipper Steven Gerrard echoed Rooney’s sentiments, although Italy were the better side in normal and extra time and dominated possession.
Gerrard said: “I think we made our country proud but once again we go home.
“When you get your noses in front at 2-1, you hope and think it’s going to be your turn.
“Credit to Italy, they are a fantastic side. But this is heartbreak and it’s difficult to take.”
Theo Walcott is confident Young and Cole will recover from their penalty agony.
He said: “I feel for every single player in a shoot-out. It is not one of those scenarios you want to be involved in when you are on a losing side.
“But the two Ashleys are strong enough lads to come back from this and the lads will be with them.
“They are two of the most experienced players in that dressing room and they will bounce back from this even better players. I do not worry about that at all.
“For the next tournament we will be better, and they will be stronger.”
Walcott added: “I think penalties is always down to luck. It is a lottery. It is just the way it goes in football.
“You can practice and practice as much as you want but, when it comes to the occasion, the big stage, it is always difficult.”