LOMAS ON STAGS: So proud, but the cancer of racism must be halted now!

Gareth Southgate consoles Jadon Sancho after the penalties defeat to Italy.Gareth Southgate consoles Jadon Sancho after the penalties defeat to Italy.
Gareth Southgate consoles Jadon Sancho after the penalties defeat to Italy.
There is barely time to take a breath as Mansfield Town's first friendlies kick off straight after the heartbreak of England's Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy.

The whole tournament has been such a tonic to football-starved fans and the nation in general with England s progress a massive bonus.

Gareth Southgate has proved the perfect appointment for the England job and not been afraid to allow talented youth to flourish.

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Hopefully Nigel Clough can follow suit with the Stags over the coming season.

Southgate's conduct and decisions have been magnificent and he has taken England so far so quickly and made us proud.

To match a side of Italy's quality over 120 gruelling minutes on such a huge stage took huge courage and stamina.

I thought Declan Rice's first 45 minutes was one of the best midfield displays I have seen in an England shirt for a long time.

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But once we got to the lottery of penalty kicks, anything can happen and those old nightmares returned for England. Those young players had given everything for the badge and what they needed at the end was an arm around their shoulders.

So to see the racist abuse the trio who missed spot kicks received on social media from 'fans' was truly sickening.

The taking of the knee has already become highly politicised and splits the nation, though suggestions the England team and manager are Marxist supporters is laughable and ludicrous.

The squad have explained their reasons for doing it and the online abuse after Sunday's final underlines just how important the fight is.

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I can remember how bad racism was in the 1970s and sadly it seems to be hugely on the rise right now.

With the whole world trying to collectively battle a pandemic you'd hope it would bring people closer together. But the cancer of racism grows every stronger.

Maybe football can agree on a new gesture if taking the knee has become too toxic and polluted? But the fight must continue and if anyone hears anything at a Stags game next season should call it out and have action taken.

This is 2021 and it simply has to stop now.