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I really enjoyed watching Italy win the Euros on Sunday evening … and it was especially pleasing and thrilling when the tournament finished with a penalty shoot-out.

Photo by Peter Glaser on Unsplash

My joy was heightened as I had Italy in a family sweepstake. In common with most Irishmen (plus Welsh and Scots) I always want to see England beaten.

I swore when Luke Shaw gave England the lead after just two minutes and I leapt from my chair, roaring like a madman, when Leonardo Bonucci equalised.

I love the drama of penalty shoot-outs and was like a man possessed when England missed three spot-kicks and Italy won. It was high class entertainment.

My latest hero is the Italian captain, the long-in-the-tooth Giorgio Chiellini. He was stunning at the back for the Italians throughout the tournament and he never put a foot wrong against England. And on one occasions he even out-paced the lightning-fast Sterling. For me Chiellini was the personality of the Euros.

But afterwards, believe it or not, I felt sorry for the England trio of Rashford, Sancho and Saka, who each missed penalties. They will take those misses to their graves.

Also I felt really sorry for the English manager Gareth Southgate. He appears to be an honest guy. He says all the right things and I admired him in the aftermath of defeat as he tried to console his gutted players.

I also admired Mason Mount who after his team’s semi-final win over Denmark showed remarkable kindness when he went into the stand to give his shirt to a young fan.

As I said, I wasn’t as happy as I might have been after Italy won. But I would have been absolutely in bits had England carried off their first trophy in 55 years.

Which brings me to the purpose of this story.

Quite a few years ago I wrote a wee article which keeps coming back to me.

Then I said: ‘The lows of losing are much, much lower than the joys of winning are high.’

In effect it means it’s great to win and it brings joy. But defeats bring unbelievable despair and will be remembered far longer than the greatest of victories.

Last Saturday night I had my book ‘The History of Newry Celtic’ launched in Nan Rices. And in that book several players, such as Larry Griffin, Decky Downey and Liam Blair bore out that ‘despair of losing’ sentiment when they said they remembered the defeats much more vividly than the victories.

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