By Nick Ames in Kiev
Theo Walcott admits that England ran out of luck as they exited Euro 2012 on penalties against Italy.
Italy won 4-2 on spot-kicks after a long, difficult night in Kiev that saw Walcott and his team-mates starved of possession for long periods. England enjoyed the support of thousands of travelling fans but the Arsenal forward believes that fortune was not with the team on this occasion.
“Everyone is down and it is a cruel way to go out,” he said.
“Someone is always going to go out on penalties – it’s a flip of a coin, and it’s a shame that we didn’t manage to do it for the fans because they were fantastic. They didn’t stop, and everyone back home showing their support means a lot too. It’s just the luck of the game, the way you go out on penalties.
“The Italians did their job right - they had a lot of the ball, they frustrated us. They created a couple of chances, not clear ones at times, and it's just one of those things. The luck didn’t go our way this time.”
England’s recent record in penalty shoot-outs is well documented, with tournament exits by this means coming at regular intervals since 1990. Walcott didn’t get the chance to step up from 12 yards but he is sure that the experience of a shoot-out with such high stakes is one that he can benefit from.
“We might have lost a few penalty shoot-outs, but that’s the first one I have been involved in and it's only going to make me and everyone in that dressing room better players,” he said.
“We just need to forget about it now. We need to take the positives out of the tournament, learn from the negatives and be stronger coming into the qualification games in August. Everyone needs their head raised up high because it’s been a good tournament. We had the late arrival of the manager and all the staff but it worked tremendously well. Our luck ran out in the end.”
Walcott himself was introduced after an hour of last night’s game, but was unable to make the stunning impact that turned the previous week’s match against Sweden.
“The manager just said ‘do what you have been doing’ but it wasn’t meant to be,” he said. “It would have been an absolute dream if that happened again but that’s the luck of the game – it doesn’t always work like that, and that’s the way it goes.”Copyright 2015 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source