Donnarumma had also saved a penalty kick by Álvaro Morata in Italy’s penalty shootout victory over Spain in the semifinals.
And as luck would have it, Saka’s kick was blocked by Donnarumma as Italy registered a 3-2 shootout victory over England.
As a disappointed and clearly emotional Saka walked back to his teammates, England coach Gareth Southgate felt the teenager’s anguish and gave him a consoling embrace. After all, it was Southgate who had picked Saka to take what would be the last kick of Euro 2020.
Watch all penalties from the Euro final here:
penalty shootout Italy vs England 1-1 penalty Euro 2020 final
After the match, Saka, whose parents are of Nigerian origin, was subjected to nasty racial abuse online by angry English fans. The same ugly treatment was meted out to Sancho and Rashford, also non-white players.
But why blame Saka, Sancho and Rashford? Taking a penalty in a high pressure match is one of the bravest things that a player can do in a football match. Despite hours of practice, taking a spot-kick, with thousands of fans in the stadium and millions watching on TV sets around the world is one of the most difficult things to do in a football match. If anything, Saka, Sancho and Rashford should be commended for being brave enough to take the responsibility of agreeing to take penalty kicks in the final of the European Championship. History is witness to the fact that the best of the best have faltered at times, while trying to score off a penalty kick.
There have been numerous instances when big players have failed to score off penalty kicks in big matches. Here we look at a few such instances:
Michel Platini: France vs Brazil – 1986 World Cup
Expectations were high when French legend Michel Platini stepped up to take a penalty against Brazil in the 1986 World Cup quarterfinal. But Platini’s right-footed kick went flying over the goalpost to the right of the goalkeeper much to the delight of the Brazilian fans. Though France went on to win the match, Platini’s missed penalty is still remembered.
Michel Platini’s Missed Penalty Kick in 1986 WC
Diego Maradona: Argentina vs Yugoslavia – 1990 World Cup
Diego Maradona was the star of the 1986 World Cup. In the 1990 edition fans expected him to carry Argentina to the title yet again and missing a penalty was the last thing that was expected from him. In the 1990 World Cup quarterfinal, though Maradona tried his best to trick Yugoslavian goalkeeper, Tomislav Ivkovic with his gaze to his left and hit the shot to the other side. But Ivkovic dived low to his right and was able to block the kick. This missed penalty though didn’t cost Argentina, as they finished the match as the winners.
Italy 1990 – Quarter Finals – Argentina 0 – 0 Yugoslavia (3 – 2 pens)
Roberto Baggio: Italy vs Brazil – 1994 World Cup final
Roberto Baggio was Italy’s saviour throughout the 1994 World Cup. But in the final that went to a penalty shootout, Baggio failed to score against Brazil and the miss proved to be a decisive factor, as Brazil were crowned the world champions. Baggio’s kick went sailing over the goalpost much to the delight of the Brazilians.
Baggio penalty miss – 1994 World Cup Final
Lionel Messi: Argentina vs Iceland – 2018 World Cup
With the score tied at 1-1, Lionel Messi had the chance to give his side a decisive lead against Iceland in the 2018 World Cup. But Messi hit the ball poorly, as the Icelandic goalkeeper Hannes Halldórsson dived to his right to block the kick. Reports at that time suggested that Messi had tried the same tactics that Maradona had tried against Yugoslavia in the 1990 World Cup quarterfinal. On both occasions, the legends failed to score.
Lionel Messi cry missed Penalty vs Iceland – World Cup 2018
Neymar: Brazil vs Colombia, 2012
It was a friendly match between Brazil and Colombia in 2012, but Neymar’s penalty miss is said to be among the worst in football history. With the score tied at 1-1, Brazil were rewarded with a penalty for a foul inside the circle. Neymar stepped up to take the penalty, he ran to the ball, stopped and then ran again. The result? The ball went flying over the crossbar, high over the goalpost into the crowd. Neymar was so distraught at his poor effort that even the Colombian goalkeeper walked up to him to console him.
Neymar Penalty Miss