After excruciating penalty kicks and a diving block by Mr. Donnarumma made Italy champions of Europe, England’s fans couldn’t believe it.
The men’s team had not won a major championship or even been to a major final in 55 years, but this team had promise and youth and diversity and a social conscience and seemed to reflect a complex, multicultural England that was sometimes lost in the tribal debates over Brexit. The team united a country that spent much of the last four-and-a-half years arguing with itself over its split with the European Union, and much of the last 15 months under coronavirus-driven lockdowns.
Queen Elizabeth II, who is 95, reminded the team’s manager in a letter that she was on hand 55 years ago to present the World Cup to his predecessor. More than 70 percent of the population of the United Kingdom was born after that championship. And many more will be born before they snap the losing streak.
Tears washed away the English flag Rosie Mayson, 25, had painted on her face.
“I’m devastated,” she said in London, “we didn’t bring it home.”
Veterans of dashed English hopes tried to console younger supporters. “Don’t be sad,” James Mcdonall, 50, told a group of English teenagers. “This is so typically English: the hope, and then to lose in the penalties on a rainy day.”
Fans in Rome needed no consoling. They tore off their shirts, exposing Italian flags on their chests. “It’s us. It’s us,” they chanted in circles, blue fire sticks illuminating their faces. “The champions of Europe are us.”