Roy Keane has criticised Raheem Sterling and Jack Grealish following England’s defeat to Italy, as Bukayo Saka took the decisive penalty.
It was too near yet too far for England at UEFA Euro 2020. After being the only team who led the final at Wembley, the Three Lions ended up being beaten by Italy on penalties. And it is one detail during the shootout that irked Manchester United legend Roy Keane, who embarked on a rant while on ITV, as quoted by Give Me Sport.
Domenico Berardi and Harry Kane got Italy and England up and running before Andrea Belotti’s miss handed the Three Lions the lead through Harry Maguire. Italy then converted two of their final three spot-kicks, which was enough as England missed each of their last three penalties, taken by Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka.
It is the fact that Saka, who had never taken one penalty in his professional footballing career, was sent ahead of more seasoned players like Raheem Sterling and Jack Grealish, which annoyed Roy Keane, with the Manchester United legend embarking on a tirade against the England duo in the aftermath of England’s defeat to Italy.
— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) July 11, 2021
The Manchester United legend said, “If you’re (Raheem) Sterling or (Jack) Grealish, you cannot sit there and have a young kid go up for a penalty ahead of you, you can’t. You can’t, I don’t care what anybody says. 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. I’m not saying he wasn’t prepared, maybe Gareth had him sixth or seventh. You can’t sit there, that must be hard to take. You pull this young kid and say ‘listen, I’ll step up for you’.”
England head coach Gareth Southgate has since owned up to his mistake of sending Saka in ahead of other options while Grealish has taken to Twitter to defend himself, claiming that he was ready to go as one of the first five options but was not picked by Southgate.
Grealish said, “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…”
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… https://t.co/3mBpKyMoUV
— Jack Grealish (@JackGrealish) July 12, 2021
The fallout from England’s defeat to Italy has been rather ugly, with players being chastised left and right, while there have been incidents of racism as well. Keane’s criticism does make sense, though. As for Saka, it will be important that he bounces back from such a setback, having performed exceedingly well at UEFA Euro 2020.