ENGLAND Under-21 captain Jordan Henderson hailed his players’ response to the racism and violence which confronted them in last night’s play-off game in Serbia.
And he questioned why Danny Rose was sent off at all in the wake of the defender receiving a torrent of racist abuse at the final whistle.
Rose, currently on loan from Spurs to Sunderland, was at the centre of the racist incidents – clearly inconsolable at the abuse he received at the end of England’s European Championship play-off game in Krusevac.
And ex-Sunderland midfielder Henderson, now at Liverpool, was proud of the way England’s young guns handled the unexpectedly intense and intimidating scenes.
He said: “The players coped with the abuse really well because it’s not nice.
“They kept their heads and were professional. I thought our players were brilliant and conducted themselves very well.
“We completely condemn what happened.
“There were also stones, coins and seats getting thrown at us.
“I didn’t understand why Danny Rose was sent off at the end – I didn’t see he did anything wrong, other than get abused.
Henderson now hopes the Serbs feel the full force of the footballing authorities’ disapproval.
“Uefa must deal with this in the right way,” he said.
“Everyone is delighted with the result and going to the Euros, but what happened wasn’t nice and is not called for in football.
“There was a lot of racist abuse out there from the stands and a lot going on after the game, which is hard to take for the players.
In terms of the action, England produced another fine display of defensive resilience, recording a sixth clean sheet in seven outings to protect their 1-0 first-leg lead and reach next summer’s finals in Israel.
Late substitute, Sunderland striker Connor Wickham, wrapped up victory by rolling the ball into an empty goal to finish off an injury-time counter-attack which had seen the Serbian goalkeeper go forward for a set-piece.
Head coach Stuart Pearce had spoken before the game about the belief Serbia’s problems with racism had been conquered.
Afterwards, he said: “One or two of the technical staff from the opposition, and I don’t include their manager in that, didn’t cover themselves in glory on the pitch at the end. Punches, headbutts were thrown, and God knows what else.
“But we will let the authorities deal with this at Uefa.”
ENGLAND U21: Butland, Smith, Caulker, Dawson, Rose, Lowe, Henderson, Zaha (Sterling 76), Sordell (Lees 62), Ince, Delfouneso (Wickham 89)