Rooney backs bright England future
England's performance at Uefa Euro 2012™ bodes well for the future despite the agony of another losing penalty shoot-out, striker Wayne Rooney said as Italy set up a semifinal meeting with Germany.
The 4-2 defeat in the shoot-out means England have lost six of their last seven penalty decisions at World Cups and European Championships.
"It's obvious that we're all completely gutted about it, but it happens and we have to hold our heads up high," the Manchester United striker said after England rode their luck in a goalless game but then lost the lottery of penalties.
Rooney, who had missed the first two of England's matches at Euro 2012 because of suspension, scored the second penalty for England before misses by Ashley Young, who hit the bar, and Ashley Cole, whose shot was saved by Gianluigi Buffon.
"Nobody expected much of us this tournament and we've showed we're a good team," he said. "We're well organised and it's good for the future. There's a lot of young players and this experience will obviously help them - we're all excited about (the future).
Rooney, who could not make any impression as England struggled to retain the ball, conceded that Italy were the dominant team.
"They had more possession and chances but they didn't have too many clear chances - maybe (Mario) Balotelli in the first half - but we defended well and hoped that we'd get that chance. Unfortunately, it went to penalties and anything can happen from there."
Captain Steven Gerrard, the other England penalty scorer, said: "I thought this time in a penalty shoot-out we might have had that bit of luck we need, and it wasn't to be.
"In a penalty shoot-out, when you get your nose in front you're praying that you see it out and it's your turn. But credit to Italy, they're a fantastic team, and they got the bit of luck in the shoot-out.
"Every time we've come out we've done the country proud, but again we go home in heartbreak, which is difficult to take".
Defender Glen Johnson agreed that England could look ahead with a positive feeling after leaving the tournament unbeaten in regular time.
"We thought it was a positive tournament, things look positive for the future," he said. "Obviously it was disappointing to go out at this stage of the competition, but that's football. And when you get to penalties, anything can happen. But it's looking positive for the future."
Arsenal's Theo Walcott, who came on as a substitute in the second half, backed Young and Cole to recover quickly from the penalty misses.
"The two Ashleys are strong enough lads to come back from this and the lads will be with them.
"They are two of the most experienced players in that dressing room and they will bounce back from this even better players. I do not worry about that at all.
"We have got to look forward to the future. It is going to be bright, I am sure of that."
England manager Roy Hodgson meanwhile said Young and Cole had both been confident penalty takers in training, but you cannot replicate the tension of a big match.
"There was never a question of playing for penalties," he said.
"Our defending was resolute and we did very well, particularly in the second half of extra time to hold out but we couldn't capitalise in the shoot-out.
"Penalty taking has become something of an obsession for English football but while you can practise you can't reproduce the atmosphere and tension. The cool, collected way Andrea Pirlo took his penalty - you can't coach that."