Watch and learn: a Pirlo masterclass for Roy and the boys

Ah well, if you’re going to get beaten on penalties yet again in a major tournament, it’s best if the experience doesn’t leave a bitter taste in the mouth, followed by years of petty jokes and booing at the expense of the England player unfortunate enough to miss.

Italy’s passing game, their all-round skill and fitness was simply better than ours, and they deserved to go through to face Germany in the semis. Retrospectively, the stats alone speak volumes, but even as the game was unfolding, it was surely impossible not to be impressed by the Italian World Cup winner, 33-year-old Milan/Juventus maestro, Andrea Pirlo…

So much time on the ball, impossible to tackle or get anywhere near, superb vision, impeccable pass completion… a perfect performance topped off by a penalty that will go down in world football history.

Well played Italy and especially Pirlo.

Roy and the boys – watch and learn.

Here’s how to shackle the blighter, stop him playing and pen him in. Just in case we’re still not quite up to his level in a couple of years’ time, be sure and buy all the England boys a Panini album for Brazil 2014…

There’s 224 pages of mud, clogging and football cards from when England were ace (and other magnificently timewarped memories) in ‘Got, Not Got – The A to Z of Football’s Lost Culture, Treasures and Pleasures’ – yours for the price of a round of drinks here…  25 five star reviews (and one 4 star) can’t be wrong!

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