England Under-21 midfielder Hamza Choudhury has apologised for letting his country down after his red card contributed to the Young Lions’ opening-game defeat at Euro 2019.
The 21-year-old was sent off before England suffered a late collapse in a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to France in Cesena on Tuesday.
Choudhury walked after an awful second-half challenge in the box on Jonathan Bamba, who went to hospital for X-rays.
Houssem Aouar hit the post from the spot-kick – France’s second penalty miss of the game – but Jonathan Ikone’s 89th-minute leveller and Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s injury-time own goal left 10-man England empty-handed.
Choudhury, who later apologised to Bamba and will discover on Friday whether he will be banned for one or two games, said: “I don’t think I have ever felt worse in my footballing career. I have let the lads down, I have let the country down.
“I understand playing at this level comes with a certain pressure. I think I just wanted to let everyone know that I know I have let them down. I just want to get that message out there and really apologise.
“I can remember that the ball was there to be won but, honestly, watching back it looked like I was over-aggressive.
“It wasn’t malicious and I didn’t want to hurt him whatsoever. I saw the ball and tried to take it, but I mistimed it.
“I will go back and think about it. The next time I get in that situation, I won’t make that tackle. Right now, I am just upset and I feel like I have let the side down.
“The lads were brilliant, to be honest. They came and they picked me up off the floor. They took me into the showers and told me to keep my head up. But right now I can’t, I just can’t. It’s a really difficult time.”
Phil Foden’s wonderful solo strike had given England a 54th-minute lead after Dean Henderson saved Moussa Dembele’s first-half penalty.
The Young Lions now face a battle to reach the last four, with just the three group winners and best runner-up going through.
Aidy Boothroyd’s side are third in Group C after Romania beat Croatia 4-1 on Tuesday. England face Romania in Cesena on Friday and Croatia in San Marino on Monday.
Choudhury added: “Of course we can stay in this tournament – of course.
“The group of lads that we have got in there, I think, are the best in the tournament. We will go on and I think we’ll get six points. That’s our aim and we will see if we can progress to the semi-finals.”