Gareth Southgate and his men could still be honoured for their exploits in the Euro 2020 football tournament despite their loss to Italy in the final.
Having lifted the spirits of the nation with outstanding performances after a hard 18 months during the coronavirus pandemic, members of the Three Lions squad and support team may be considered for nominations in the New Year Honours list.
They are the first England men’s football team to reach a major international tournament final for 55 years since the World Cup was won in 1966.
Many of that squad were subsequently given honours, with those still alive including Sir Geoff Hurst, Sir Bobby Charlton, George Cohen MBE and Roger Hunt MBE.
While Prime Minister Boris Johnson has yet to comment on whether the team could be granted honours, a Government minister said there will be “many ways” in which the country can recognise the achievements of the England team who lost on penalties 3-2 after the match ended 1-1 at Wembley.
Asked whether Mr Southgate was likely to be honoured or knighted after taking his team to the final of the competition, health minister Edward Argar told LBC radio: “I, like the rest of the nation, share in the pride in our amazing football team and I’m sure there will be many ways in which we say thank you to them and recognise that, and I suspect that will be looked at in the coming days.”
The honours system recognises people who have “committed themselves to serving and helping Britain” and made achievements in public life.
They are usually seen to be “outstanding” at what they do, or they have made life better for other people, which many fans will argue this year’s England squad has done.
Nominations can be made online at gov.uk/honours with detailed reasons of why someone is worthy of the recognition, plus their address and contact details.
After someone is nominated, the decision to proceed – and which honour they will receive – is decided by a committee. Nominees can decline an honour.
The sports honours committee currently has seven members, who will review applications and send their recommendations to the main honours committee.
Recommendations from the main committee then go to the prime minister and to the Queen, who awards the honour.
The Queen paid tribute to the “spirit, commitment and pride” of the England football team in a good luck message ahead of the final, writing: “Fifty-five years ago I was fortunate to present the World Cup to Bobby Moore and saw what it meant to the players, management and support staff to reach and win the final of a major international football tournament.
“I want to send my congratulations and that of my family to you all on reaching the final of the European Championships, and send my good wishes for tomorrow with the hope that history will record not only your success but also the spirit, commitment and pride with which you have conducted yourselves.”
The awards are usually made biannually in the New Year’s Honours list and the Queen’s Birthday Honours list, which has already passed, so members of the Three Lions may have to wait until December to be recognised.
However, several members of the squad and staff already have letters after their name.
Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford, Jordan Henderson have all previously been made MBEs and manager Gareth Southgate became an OBE in 2019 after he led England to the World Cup semi-final in 2018.
Kane and Southgate received their honours for services to football.
Sterling, Henderson and Rashford received recognition for services to racial equality in sport, football and charity, and vulnerable children during the pandemic, respectively.
Mr Johnson previously said the Three Lions had done an “outstanding job” but did not reveal whether they would be recommended for gongs.
“I obviously wouldn’t want to anticipate anything that the honours people may decide,” he said.
“But clearly I think Gareth Southgate has done an absolutely outstanding job.”
Other football stars who have been recognised for their achievements include Sir Kenny Dalglish, Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer, David Beckham and Steven Gerrard.
Other professional sportsmen and women to be honoured include tennis ace Sir Andy Murray, GB Olympians Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Mo Farah and Dame Kelly Holmes, seven-time Formula One world champion Sir Lewis Hamilton, and cricketers Joe Root MBE and Ben Stokes OBE.
On Monday, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Honours are a matter separate to Government.
“The Prime Minister was asked a question about this last week and talked about how brilliantly Gareth Southgate and the team had done.”