Chris Waddle does not think England will get a better chance to win a major tournament after their agonising Euro 2020 final loss to Italy.
The Three Lions suffered penalty shoot-out heartbreak on Sunday as the Azzurri prevailed 3-2 on spot-kicks at Wembley
It was an agonising defeat for Gareth Southgate, who had guided England to their first major final in 55 years – and first at the European Championship.
Southgate’s side conceded just a single goaleon route to the showpiece, becoming the first nation to begin a Euros campaign with five successive clean sheets along the way.
However, a first trophy since the 1966 World Cup narrowly eluded the Three Lions after Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Buyako Saka all missed from 12 yards out.
Former England winger Waddle was part of Bobby Robson’s side that reached the 1990 World Cup semi-finals, before losing to West Germany on penalties.
And the 60-year-old, who along with Stuart Pearce was unsuccessful from the spot in that defeat, thinks his nation will struggle for a better opportunity to end their long wait for major silverware.
“I think Gareth has assembled a very talented squad,” he told Stats Perform
“We’ve got two teams in that squad which could easily come onto the field; if there were a lot of problems, you could easily adjust.
“There’s a lot of flexibility and they’re all a good age, although some of them probably lack a little bit of experience.
“I think there will be little things which we could have done better probably. I think we’re a little bit naive. I think subs should have come on earlier the other night.
“But overall, England’s had a very good tournament.
“I said at the start of the tournament that if England didn’t get to the semis, you’d be disappointed.
“They went one step better than that and they’ll be very disappointed they didn’t win it. I don’t think we’ll get a better chance.”
Nevertheless, Waddle has been pleased with the strides England have made under Southgate.
After replacing Sam Allardyce in 2016, the former Middlesbrough boss steered the Three Lions to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals, before repeating the feat in the Nations League the following year.
The 50-year-old, who is under contract until after next year’s World Cup in Qatar, has established a clear identity in the national team; making them difficult to beat while comfortable in possession across all areas of the field.
And Waddle is confident Southgate is the right man to take the nation forward.
“Overall, I think Gareth’s doing a great job for England, to be honest,” he added.
“I think he understands the England set-up. He’s been around the scene a long time.
“He knows a lot of those players; the players who came through the academy system which we were waiting for for a long time.
“The system, which obviously has been heavily invested in, is starting to flourish; it’s starting to show that it’s working.
“We’re producing a lot of talented footballers all over the park who are comfortable in possession.
“Whether you’re a centre-half, full-back, midfielder or goalkeeper, they all know how to control the football very well and look after it. So, we’ve come a long way.
“Why change Gareth Southgate to get a new manager who might think ‘I’m going to change it all around again’?