Luke Shaw celebrating scoring England's opening goal
Credit: GETTY IMAGES
Luke Shaw may have laughed off his ‘Shawberto Carlos’ nickname but the Brazilian himself would have been proud of the goal with which England’s left wing-back wrote himself into the record books against Italy.
It wasn’t just Shaw’s first goal in an England shirt, but also the fastest ever in the final of a European Championship, timed at one minute, 57 seconds. Sadly, it did not prove to be the winner and there was penalty shootout heartbreak in the end for Gareth Southgate’s squad, but Shaw’s contribution should not be overlooked.
Roberto Carlos would certainly have approved of the technique, as Shaw produced the perfect half-volley from Kieran Trippier’s cross to beat goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.
It was the stuff of dreams and in many ways encapsulated what a brilliant tournament this has been for Shaw, who was not even the automatic first-choice left-back ahead of the first group game against Croatia.
It was not only Jose Mourinho who had communicated his preference for Chelsea’s Champions League winner Ben Chilwell, but England manager Southgate had actually opted for Trippier on the left for the first game, ahead of both of his left-backs.
But Shaw has never let go of his position on the left since being picked against Scotland and, just as Southgate’s story has been one of resilience and redemption, so is his.
It was following Mourinho’s criticism of his deliveries against Czech Republic that the Manchester United star claimed the Portuguese has a ‘personal agenda’ against him.
Mourinho’s criticisms seemed to weigh heavily on the shoulders of Shaw at one stage of his career, but these days the 25-year-old appears to be using them as motivation to prove him wrong.
It was not just Mourinho who at one stage seemed to threaten Shaw’s ability to make the most of his talent, but also a horrific double leg break suffered before the Portuguese took over at United.
There was also an admission from Shaw earlier this year that he had felt a sense of regret for letting Southgate down by withdrawing from England squads too easily in the past.
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But this is an England squad full of players who have been given second chances and Shaw is one of many who have grasped theirs.
Against Ukraine in Rome, England’s most comfortable game of this tournament, Shaw provided assists for Harry Kane and Harry Maguire in what must have been a sweet moment.
But nothing will have compared to how the final started for Shaw, who not only became England’s first goalscorer in the final of a major tournament since Sir Geoff Hurst, but also performed well.
Having already netted, Shaw almost set up another chance after being found by Jordan Pickford, but his pass was just a little too far ahead of Raheem Sterling.
Italy were initially caught cold by Southgate’s decision to revert to a back three and use Trippier and Shaw as wing-backs.
Mourinho famously claimed four years ago that he had been forced to make every decision for Shaw from the touchline, saying "it was his body but my brain".
But Shaw does not need coaching through games nowadays and he produced a dangerous cross that needed to be cleared after controlling a high ball expertly. He was also perfectly placed to cut out a dangerous cross-field pass on the stroke of half-time to frustrate the Italians.
One of Southgate’s many successes has been to use club partnerships to England’s advantage and Shaw has clearly felt comfortable next to his United team-mate Maguire since the central defender returned from injury.
It was Maguire who got on the end of Shaw’s free-kick 11 minutes after the restart, but he could not direct his header on target.
After Italy had equalised and England had switched to flat back four, Shaw breathed a sigh of relief when Domenico Berardi got in ahead of him but steered his shot over the bar.
But he had more than earned that stroke of luck, just as he had deserved his place in history and maybe Mourinho will finally acknowledge the fact that Shaw delivered for his country.