William urges England players to ‘hold heads high’ after Euros penalties defeat

England footballers should be “so proud” of themselves for their efforts in a historic Euros campaign, the Duke of Cambridge has said, after their “heartbreaking” loss in a nail-biting penalty shootout.

Fans were left devastated after the nation’s dreams of being crowned champions of Europe in front of a home crowd at Wembley Stadium were crushed in the final seconds on Sunday night.

Italy ended the Three Lions’ bid for glory with a 3-2 victory on penalties in the nation’s capital, in a game which had earlier seen ticketless fans breach security to get into the stadium.

William, who was at the match with the Duchess of Cambridge and their son Prince George, urged the players to “hold your heads high”.

Fans watching Italy v England
England fans at the fan zone in Trafford Park, Manchester are dejected after England lose (Martin Rickett/PA)

In a tweet from the KensingtonRoyal account, signed W, William congratulated the Italian football team on their win.

He wrote: “Heartbreaking. Congratulations @Azzurri on a great victory. @England, you’ve all come so far, but sadly this time it wasn’t our day. You can all hold your heads high, and be so proud of yourselves — I know there’s more to come.”

England’s early lead, putting them 1-0 up just two minutes into the first half, was not enough to clinch victory.

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A win would have been the men’s football team’s first major tournament win since the 1966 World Cup success, which also took place at Wembley.

“Gutted” fans said they remained proud of the team after their penalty defeat.

At the PaddyPark fans zone in Newcastle, student Millie Carson, 18, said the team had “brought the country together, everyone has been loving life in these hard times”.

Jake Shepherd, a 19-year-old project coordinator, said he was “gutted” but the tournament run “sets us for the World Cup – who says we cannot win it?”.

Student Jack Brown, 18, said: “I’m sad we lost but they have done so well.

“I’m proud of this team.”