LONDON: Jack Grealish blasted the critics on Monday who accused him of not stepping up when England needed experienced players in the Euro 2020 final penalty shootout against Italy.
The 19-year-old Saka's penalty was saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma as England suffered a heartbreaking loss at Wembley. Notably, Saka has never taken a penalty for his club side, Arsenal, but was given the responsibility of taking the all-important fifth kick in the shootout.
"If you're (Raheem) Sterling or (Jack) Grealish, you cannot sit there and have a young kid [Saka] go up for a penalty ahead of you, you can't," Roy Keane told ITV as per Sky Sports. "You cannot let a shy 19-year-old go up in front of you. They have a lot more experience, Sterling has won trophies, they had to get in front of the young kid and stand up."
Grealish responded on Twitter and insisted he had wanted to take a penalty. "I said I wanted to take one!!!! The gaffer has made so many right decisions through this tournament and he did tonight! But I won't have people say that I didn't want to take a peno when I said I will..." Aston Villa playmaker wrote.
Azzurri defeated England 3-2 on penalties after the normal 90-minute action had finished at 1-1 and even extra time was not able to break the deadlock. England had a dream start to their first-ever Euro showpiece, Luke Shaw thumping in a fine goal inside two minutes to light up Wembley. Yet Italy slowly found their feet and midway through the second half, Leonardo Bonucci found the net. On to extra time, and then penalties, where both goalkeepers saved two; history, though, belongs to Donnarumma the victor.
After the Three Lions' failure in the penalty shootouts, Southgate said it "totally rests" with him as he was the one who decided who was going to take the kicks on the basis of training.
"In terms of the penalties, that's my call. It totally rests with me," Southgate told BBC as reported by goal.com. "I decided on the penalty takers based on what they've done in training, and nobody is on their own. We won together as a team, and it's on all of us for not being able to win the game tonight," he added.