Harry Kane has taken responsibility for England’s devastating World Cup exit, saying he was “absolutely gutted” for his missed penalty against France.
The Tottenham forward was in top form that night, but scored his second penalty of the night in the 84th minute as the side trailed 2-1 in the quarter-finals.
“Absolutely gutted,” Kane tweeted. “We gave everything and it boiled down to a small detail for which I take responsibility. There’s no hiding, it hurts and it will take time to get over it, but it’s part of the sport.”
The loss ended what had been a positive tournament for the national team. Football Association chief executive Mark Bullingham expressed his pride in Gareth Southgate as the England squad began their journey home.
“Like all England fans, we feel the pain of losing a quarter-final, along with the coaches, players and support squad who are suffering this morning,” he said in a statement. “Gareth and Steve (Netherlands) have prepared the team exceptionally well throughout the tournament. The players were committed to winning the trophy and were very well guided by Harry Kane.
“But the sport can have excellent margins and that day, against the reigning world champions, it shouldn’t have been.
“This is a very exciting young English team and despite last night’s intense disappointment, they should be very proud of their performances in Qatar.
“We are incredibly proud of Gareth, the players, coaches and support team and appreciate all the hard work they have put in.”
Declan Rice had been one of England’s leading artists. He said in a tweet that “we gave absolutely everything”.
“The more talent, the bigger the goal,” he added. “The bigger the goal, the more pain along the way to achieving it. This is all part of the journey to success as a team. Thank you all for your incredible support.”
Harry Maguire: ‘We thought we’d win the tournament’
by Mike McGrath
Gareth Southgate addressed his players in the relaxed atmosphere of the Al-Bayt Stadium dressing room, telling them he was proud of their World Cup following their defeat by France.
The England manager had left the last squad speech to Harry Kane ahead of the quarter-finals but spoke to the squad alongside his assistant Steve Holland after missing out on meeting Morocco in the semi-finals of this week.
Harry Maguire was among the players to add his support to Southgate as he remained in charge of the side and described the scene as the players returned to the exchange area.
“Gareth said a few words and Steve Holland said a few words and that was it. He mentioned how proud he was of us,” Maguire said. “He was pretty cool if I’m honest. A lot of the guys just sat there reflecting, disappointed.
“It’s the most disappointed thing I’ve been with, the reason being that we thought we were going to win the tournament. This is not arrogant. There are five or six teams who believe the same thing. It’s the first tournament I’ve been to where the group of players who make it to the quarterfinals, go through, and lose in the semis or finals wouldn’t have felt good enough for us.
“I think it’s good in the long run that the mentality has changed in the group, that’s really important. And I think this team is really talented and there will be other opportunities for them and for us. It’s disappointing and we’re hurt.”
Maguire will now return to Manchester United and fight for his place after losing his automatic starter status. Playing for Southgate in Qatar saw his return to form towards the second half of the season.
“I’ve played every game and I’m proud of my mentality to prove myself again,” said Maguire. “I look at the team and every time I wear this shirt, I want the team to do well. I would much rather have had a bad game [against France] and crossed.
The United captain believes England have lost to the eventual champions, backing France to retain their title.
“I feel they will continue to lift the cup. And if we’re being totally honest, we’ve been much better than them in many areas. But they are world champions for a reason. And the reason is, they’re clinical, they’re ruthless, they’ve got experience,” she said.
“Now We Belong on This Stage”
“But one thing I would say about this group of guys that was demonstrated tonight is that we belong on this stage now. We have the right to play these big matches and play these knockout matches in big tournaments and we showed that tonight, even if we lost the match.”
Rice, meanwhile, says there is a “negativity” in England that won’t be removed until a major tournament is won. “I think sometimes the negativity that surrounds us will go away once we win something again,” she said. “There will always be that pressure on us, but I feel like it’s starting to affect us in such a way that we’re getting back to a level where people believe in us and the country supports us.
“A few years ago that wasn’t the case, so we can be really proud of ourselves as a group. But we have to start again because in the end international football is based on what you win, we haven’t won for years, so that’s what we want to try to do.”