Rio's passionate defence of Rashford & Sancho

Monday 12 July 2021 10:32

Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand has leapt to the defence of Marcus Rashford and our prospective new signing Jadon Sancho after the duo missed penalties in the Euro 2020 final.

England took an early lead thanks to Luke Shaw’s wonder goal and Italy equalised in the second half through Leonardo Bonucci. A period of extra-time followed and late in the second half, manager Gareth Southgate sent Rashford and Sancho into the action with a shootout clearly in mind. 

Marcus did well to send Gianluigi Donnarumma the wrong way but cruelly struck the outside of the post, before Jadon saw his spot-kick brilliantly parried away by the giant Italian goalkeeper. Donnarumma then saved again from Bukayo Saka and was later crowned UEFA’s official Player of the Tournament. 

Speaking after the match on the BBC, United and England icon Ferdinand delivered an impassioned response to the outcome and credited the bravery of those who stepped up to take penalties. “It is a huge disappointment, but the fans were clapping our players and they have brought us a joy that most people, definitely my generation and below, have never felt watching an England team. 


“They lifted this country up when we needed it, the morale of this country after the pandemic we've been through, so they have to take huge credit for that. It is a harsh, harsh game when it gets to this stage, penalties are difficult to win, so it is a painful, painful way to lose it.

“It is crazy because I was supremely confident coming into this game because of what they have done throughout this tournament, the way they have grown throughout the tournament, not only as individuals but as a team, and they have enhanced their reputations. 

“But you have to say the experience, the wily old foxes in the Italian team, by hook or by crook they were going to get over the line and they were fabulous in all elements of their game. When it gets to penalties it is a 50/50 toss of a coin and when it comes to Donnarumma, he is a giant of a keeper.”

When fellow pundit Alan Shearer asked whether it was fair to ask Rashford and Sancho to take penalties just minutes after coming on, Ferdinand highlighted how some of the biggest names in world football have missed from the spot when the pressure was on. Of course, that includes perhaps the greatest of them all, Cristiano Ronaldo, during our 2008 Champions League final.

“That has happened for years,” said Rio. “People have put players on, maybe not as late as that, but towards the end in the last five, four, three minutes. Players come on and they go on as penalty takers. Rashford is a recognised penalty taker for Man United. This happens. 


“When you look down the years in tournament football, it is the biggest and best players who have missed penalties. These players are young kids, so they have got to look at that. It's a big ask but these two boys would have said 'get me on there', they had the character to say 'get me on there'.

“There is no way that anybody can point the finger and blame anybody. Penalty shootouts, they are a lottery and again, you have to be brave. I have seen seasoned players with hundreds of games under their belts turn away from a penalty and say 'no I don't want to be one of the takers'.”