THE excitement of the European Football Championships is over until the World Cup in Qatar in 2022 and the next European Championships in Germany in 2024.

For a long-suffering Tartan Army fan like me, it was great to see Scotland grace a major football championship for the first time in 23 years.

It was disappointing not to see Scotland progress, but we have young talent in Billy Gilmour, Kevin Nisbet and Nathan Paterson amongst others that gives us hope.

Italy were worthy winners of the tournament in the end, playing the best football and ultimately defeating England in the final on penalties.

However, the real story for me in the tournament was the continuing growth of a remarkable young man in Marcus Rashford, a young black player from Manchester United.

Last year, Marcus initiated a campaign to ensure that 1.3m kids from low-income families in England received free meals during school holidays, a policy which was to be scrapped by the UK Government. Growing up in a single-parent family, he had watched his mum struggle to feed him and his four siblings.

Only last Sunday in the European Championship Final, Marcus, along with fellow English black players Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, missed their penalties against Italy in the penalty shootout which saw the Italians lift the trophy. They are all young men of 23, 21 and 19 years respectively.

The racist abuse they received almost immediately after the final was horrendous.

Marcus Rashford after the game apologised for his penalty shootout miss but said he “will never apologise for who I am”.

“I felt as if I’d let everyone down,” Rashford wrote in a statement. He added: “I can take critique of my performance all day long, my penalty was not good enough.”

The message from the European Championships for me is that hate won’t win – remarkable young men like Marcus Rashford will ensure that.