LONDON: Roy Hodgson repeated his praise of England’s senior players on his way out of the managerial door after the second round defeat by Iceland at Euro 2016.
Hodgson countered speculation that some of the players had become disillusioned with events and choices along the road to disaster in Nice.
Wayne Rooney issued a statement saying the report was “completely untrue”, and Hodgson, who admitted he felt “fragile”, “sad” and “sorry” for a tough night, expressed his dismay with stories that older players had lost faith in him.
“We had no indication from the players that they were anything but behind what we were doing and behind the game plan and they tried hard to execute that.
“In the game against Slovakia we dominated the game from start to finish and all we could be accused of from a critical point of view was that we didn’t take our chances.”
Hodgson did not field any media questions after the Iceland defeat and initially declined the chance to speak in Chantilly, but he reacted emotionally when asked if he had been forced to attend by the FA.
“I was anxious to make certain that no one in this room could accuse me of being worried or afraid to face the media,” he added.
“I don’t think it’s necessary. I don’t think I have anything to say to you any different to what you know already or what you have written already but I wasn’t forced to come here. I did so because I have never shirked a press conference. I have never run away from anybody. I have answered questions for four years.
“People are smarting from the defeat last night that saw us leave the tournament. I suppose someone has to stand and take the slings and arrows that come with it.
“My emotions are obvious ones. I am really disappointed. I didn’t see the defeat coming. Nothing in the first three games here gave me any indication that we would play as poorly as we did.
“Unfortunately, they are one-off events. If one of those one-off events you don’t turn up, even an opponent that are not entirely fancied like Iceland can beat you. That is what happened.
“I am still recovering from that. I am still fragile. It wasn’t a good night, for anybody, because we wanted to stay in this tournament and do well. We believed if we could get to the quarter-final we would go beyond that. We go home as losers and we retain that wretched record of losing a tournament in the knockout stages.”
Hodgson rejected the accusation that the job had become “impossible” and was optimistic for the team because of the young players coming through.
However, after being encouraged by the team’s displays in the group stages, Hodgson seemed stunned by his players’ abject showing against Iceland.
Asked if he had any regrets, the former Liverpool and Fulham boss said: “It is too early to say. It certainly is the wrong day for me to be talking about it because emotions are too raw.
“Hindsight does always serve the purpose of putting you in the right and if you don’t have it you find yourself very often in the wrong.
“I don’t think before last night’s game the performances had given me any real cause for concern, other than us not taking our chances.
“I didn’t see, and neither did the players, the sort of performance we gave last night that saw us knocked out. Iceland were possibly the better team on the night despite us having the best of possession.”