Football Heartbreak as ‘it’s coming home’ turns to ‘going to Rome’
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Heartbreak as ‘it’s coming home’ turns to ‘going to Rome’

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Dressed just like his dad, an emotional Prince George stole the attention of football fans around the world with his reactions at the Euro 2020 final.

First there was unbridled joy as the seven-year-old went wild after Luke Shaw scored for England just a minute and 57 seconds into the match – the quickest goal in a European Championship final.

George, illuminated by a beaming smile, was seen hugging his parents, Kate Middleton and Prince William, in celebration.

Football fans on social media seemed just as happy with the young prince’s reaction as they were with the goal.

“I know [England] just scored but Prince George’s reaction was the cutest!!” one wrote.

“Prince George is the lucky charm for England! Everyone bow to The King George,” another fan said.

But that was before England suffered the cruelest of defeats following three missed penalties in a shootout at the end of the dramatic final on Monday morning (Australian time).

Even among a strong 67,500 crowd, a downcast George – wearing a fitted suit and an official England tie just like his dad – could be seen staring out in disappointment.

Prince William put his hands on his son’s shoulders after the team’s penalty shootout loss to Italy.

Later, the Duke of Cambridge offered his own tribute to the beaten England team.

“Heartbreaking. Congratulations, Italy, on a great victory,” he posted on the royal couple’s official Twitter account.

“England, you’ve all come so far, but sadly this time it wasn’t our day. You can all hold your heads high, and be so proud of yourselves – I know there’s more to come.”

Prince George reportedly begged his parents to attend the Euro 2020 final. Photo: AAP

Abuse against England players after heartbreak loss

But there were also darker undertones to the loss.

Following the match, the three England players who missed the spot-kicks – and who are all black – were bombarded with racist abuse on social media.

England’s Football Association released a statement slamming the abuse directed at Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka.

“The FA strongly condemns all forms of discrimination and is appalled by the online racism that has been aimed at some of our England players on social media,” it said.

“We could not be clearer that anyone behind such disgusting behaviour is not welcome in following the team.

“We will do all we can to support the players affected while urging the toughest punishments possible for anyone responsible.”

‘Childish’ move by England players

As the Italian players sang and danced, kissed and cried, bathed in sparkling ticker tape, for the English it was another false dawn.

For some of the England players, it was all too much. The drew the ire of football after being spotted taking off runners-up medals immediately after they were placed around their necks during the presentation ceremony.

Many felt it was disrespectful and not a good look of sportsmanship.

“England showing a real lack of respect by removing their silver medals as soon as they’re given. Poor sportsmanship no matter how disappointed they must be,” one fan posted to Twitter.

“This is just childish,” another wrote.

Italian defender Leonardo Bonucci noted many of the fans left the stadium even before the presentation.

“It’s a unique pleasure to see 58,000 people leave before the trophy presentation,” he said.

“Now the cup is coming to Rome. They thought it was staying here, I’m sorry for them but Italy has once again taught a lesson.”

Italy now has two European Championships to add to its four World Cup triumphs, England’s wait for silverware stretches into a 56th year.

Not since their sole World Cup triumph back in 1966 have the English tasted success.

Unsettling footage of bare-chested men, fuelled by lager, tearing up city centre squares before the final will also have done little to win the English any neutral fans.

The streets around the stadium were already slick with beer, with broken glass crunching underfoot hours before kick-off.

Earlier on Sunday, London’s Kings Cross station was evacuated after excited fans set off flares just outside.

It was initially announced the busy train station had been closed and evacuated due to a ‘fire alert’. It turned out to be the smoke from the flares drifting inside the station, where it set off fire alarms.

At Wembley hundreds of fans were booted from the stadium after breaking through security gates in an attempt to watch the match, despite having no tickets.

Melbourne celebrates win

Back home, thousands flocked to Melbourne’s Lygon Street and packed into cafes and bars on the strip known as Little Italy to watch the game.

A projector was also set up in Piazza Italia, in the Argyle Gardens, where flares were lit as a save from Gianluigi Donnarumma sealed the game for Italy.

Victoria Police officers, including the public order response team, were monitoring the crowd. They expect the party to last into late Tuesday morning.

Italian fans celebrate following the Euro 2020 Final in Melbourne. Photo: AAP