“An England United, first in hope, now in defeat”.
British media reflected Thursday on England’s heartbreaking 2-1 defeat to Croatia in the World Cup semi-finals, praising manager Gareth Southgate and his young team despite their exit.England won plaudits not just for their deeds on the pitch — reaching the semis for the first time since 1990 — but for bringing together a nation bitterly divided over Brexit.
“Our divided nation has been united thanks to a polite Englishman and a bunch of modern ordinary lads,” said the Sun.
“Forget Manchester United, West Ham United, Newcastle United. For now we’re an England United, first in hope, now in defeat.”
The Daily Mirror also credits Southgate and his men for fostering a spirit of unity.
“They go into Saturday’s third-place play-off (against Belgium) with their heads held high, knowing they have done themselves proud and put a smile back on a conflicted country’s face.”
The Times points out that since England won the World Cup in 1966, Britain has joined what is now the European Union and is heading towards the exit.“Whether we will actually have exited the EU by the time we make our next World Cup final is a moot point,” it says.
“However, as the impressive England manager Gareth Southgate has said, the team did create a brief sense of unity at a time of division,” it adds.