By Mary Cunningham
England lost to Iceland yesterday in the Euro Cup.
It was so embarrassing that the UK manager quit in disgrace.
It was in the European Championships round-of-16 game in Nice, France, to Iceland, a country of about 300,000 people that had never played in a major tournament before this one.
Iceland: a team with two managers, one of whom, Heimir Hallgrimsson, is a part-time dentist.
And England had the lead, too, on a Wayne Rooney penalty kick after just four minutes. Yet it managed to lose by 2-1 on goals by Ragnar Sigurdsson, who plays for Krasnodar in the top Russian league, and Kolbeinn Sigthorsson, who plays for Nantes in the top French league.
England, which had won all 10 games in qualifying for the Euros but finished second to Wales in Group B, lacked any offensive firepower even though its team is packed with stars from the same Premier League that fills TV screens worldwide every weekend while the likes of Krasnodar and Nantes play in obscurity.
The loss was so embarrassing that England manager Roy Hodgson resigned immediately after the game.
Reading a statement that English news outlets speculated had been written before the game, Hodgson said, “I am sorry it will have to end this way, but these things happen.”
Losing to Iceland, the smallest country ever to have qualified for a major tournament, is only the latest humiliating performance for England. Under Hodgson, England did not win any games at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. England has not won a knockout-stage match in a major tournament since 2006, unable to meet the expectations of an enthusiastic soccer nation.
“They thought that this would be a walk in the park,” Sigurdsson told reporters. “We had faith in our ability.”
Rooney converted the early penalty kick after Raheem Sterling was tripped up by Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson. Iceland responded quickly as Sigurdsson volleyed in a pass from Kari Arnason in the sixth minute. Sigthorsson scored the decisive goal in the 18th minute when England keeper Joe Hart could only get a hand on the ball.