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Last Updated: Friday, 25 June, 2004, 14:47 GMT 15:47 UK
Dejected England fans return home
England fans
England fans watch their team crash out of the tournament
The first disappointed England football fans are returning home after watching their side lose to the host nation in Euro 2004.

A number of visibly dejected fans arrived at Heathrow airport on Friday morning after catching one of the first available flights from Lisbon.

There were few smiles as the unhappy supporters trudged on to home soil.

For many England fans the pattern was all too familiar and once again many feel cheated out of a victory.

And to lose to England's bete noire - penalties - added insult to injury.

Andy Beddard
We played well in the group stages but we let ourselves down when it counted
Andy Beddard
England fan

Tactics

The England coach's tactics were called into question by one disappointed fan.

John Teague, 31, a plasterer from Horsham, in Sussex, said: "Sven got his tactics wrong, just like he did against Brazil.

"He let Portugal run at us rather than trying to get a second goal and a win.

"He also took off two of our best players - Gerrard and Scholes - which added to the loss of Rooney."

The despair felt by the returning fans was summed up by Andy Beddard, 32, an electrical engineer from Middlesbrough.

Mr Beddard followed the England team in Euro 96 and travelled to Japan for the World Cup two years ago.

Misery

He said: "I'm depressed - I feel really flat. I have been through the mill and seen this all before.

"We played well in the group stages but we let ourselves down when it counted".

He added: "I have seen a couple of penalty shoot outs in major tournaments and I'm yet to see us win one".

Whether we won or lost I would have still been proud to be Portuguese
Ana Da Silva

And the sense of gloom extended from the arrivals lounge at Heathrow Terminal One to Downing Street.

Prime Minister Tony Blair was "as disappointed as anybody else" by England's exit from Euro 2004, Downing Street said.

But it was not all doom and gloom, as Portuguese communities across the UK celebrated a dramatic victory.

Hundreds of Portugal fans lined Stockwell Road in south London to celebrate the victory on Thursday night.

Ana Da Silva, 36, one of London's 40, 000 - strong Portuguese community, said: "It is much more than a game for me.

"Whether we won or lost I would have still been proud to be Portuguese."





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