English Soccer Fans Mourn Their Team's Defeat

The English Miss Their Chance to Play in the Euro Cup

LONDON, Nov. 22, 2007 — -- England is mourning today — the national soccer team lost to Croatia and won't qualify for the Euro 2008 Cup, the second most important tournament after the World Cup.

British tabloids, which are often a good reflection of the country's mood, lashed out at England's coach, Steve McClaren, who was sacked today.

The Daily Mirror called him "The Man With No Shame."

"We Stink, It's All Over," read The Sun newspaper this morning. "Next summer was canceled last night for fans as England crashed out of Euro 2008."

The English team had performed poorly in the last weeks.

As of Wednesday the team still had a chance to play in the Euro, if it had tied with Croatia. But instead England lost, 3-2, at the newly revamped Wembley, Europe's second largest stadium.

Many said McClaren's decision to appoint Scott Carson, a rather junior goalkeeper, instead of the more experienced Paul Robinson, along with changing the team formation, cost England its ticket to the Euro.

Eight minutes into the game, Carson failed to block a shot, when Croatian player Niko Kranjcar shot and the ball slid off Carson's shoulder and hit the net.

A Sad Day

"This is one of the saddest days in my career," McClaren said today. "Eighteen months ago [when I was appointed] was the proudest day of my career and I was honored to be the England head coach and for 18 months I've enjoyed every minute."

"I have huge disappointment for the people who are really losing out, and that's the country, the nation, the fans," said McClaren.

Along with Brazil and Italy, England probably has one of the world's most intense soccer fans.

Every game, national and international, is watched religiously by millions of people at pubs or at home. In many ways, soccer games are today's Mass in England.

So it was no surprise to hear former captain and fashion icon David Beckham say that this is going to be "devastating for the country, for us not to qualify for a competition is a huge, huge thing."

However, Beckham, who scored Wednesday, refused to blame any individuals for his team's failure.

"I am not going into performances by the players," Beckham told the BBC. "They are my teammates. I stick up for everyone of them. I was captain of many of these players for many years, and there are some of the best players in England in that team."

On London's streets, many expressed frustration and bitterness.

"Yesterday's game was atrocious," said Sion Williams, a 23-year-old cop. "Bad tactics, wrong decisions, that was bad."

The coach deserved to be fired, said one of Williams' colleagues who only agreed to give his badge number: TL 7698. During the first half of Wednesday's game, you basically had "one team playing, and the other [England] watching," he said.

Asked what he thought of the English team, 76-year-old driver Bill Costen poked his head out of his black cab and said: "Rubbish, our team has been rubbish since 1966."

Many in England are still nostalgic for 1966, when Bobby Charlton and his team won the World Cup. To this day, Charlton still is England's top scorer with 49 goals.

A few blocks away from the cab station, 27-year-old Matt Hayes, who was trying to drown his sorrows in a pint of beer, went a step further. He said that his team was not rubbish, but "f-- rubbish. You can quote me on that."

However, at the same pub ABC News succeeded in finding four men who were actually rejoicing about England's soccer disaster.

"We are delighted," said 51-year-old Graeme McDonald. "You want to know why? Because we are Scottish!"

McDonald conceded that he and his mates had no reason to brag either — "Scotland is out as well," he said. "We got beaten by Italy."

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