On what was his 50th cap, Raheem Sterling was afforded the honour of captaining his country, becoming the first City player to skipper England in a competitive worldwide since Colin Bell in May 1972. Not all England managers can say they have been as generous towards their players after losing a game of such magnitude.
The centre back, speaking before the final in Madrid, said: "I think Lionel Messi is the best player in the world".
Then deep in injury time Sterling nearly conjured up a moment of magic with a sublime curling effort which struck the top of the bar.
The Three Lions fell to a 3-1 defeat after extra-time against Netherlands on Thursday, despite taking the lead through Marcus Rashford's 32nd minute penalty, as goals from Matthijs de Ligt, Quincy Promes and Kyle Walker's own goal sent Oranje through to the final.
Netherlands looks to be crowned the inaugural UEFA Nations League champion when it takes on Portugal in the final on Sunday in Porto, Portugal at 2:45 p.m. ET.
"I can understand that but I have to look at the bigger picture of what the players have given me and the way that they've tried incredibly for their country".
Henderson, of course, ended up playing for more than 50 minutes and England had their best spell when he came on and Southgate switched to a system that had the Liverpool skipper and Declan Rice at the base of midfield with Barkley, Raheem Sterling and Jesse Lingard situated behind Harry Kane. But we made too many mistakes in our final third, partly as a result of their pressure but also by errors by us.
John Stones had a shocker and was caught in possession while attempting to dribble out from his own penalty box, allowing the Dutch to take the lead in extra time.
But the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) ruled the goal for an offside as the England celebration was short lived.
Southgate, who will make changes with Ben Chilwell, Jordan Henderson and Marcus Rashford nearly certainly out through injury, said: "It is very simple". But why do we persist with a game where the teams involved would rather be anywhere else?
"We didn't lose because of how we wanted to play, the errors were uncharacteristic really, and not in areas we would make (them in)", he said.
"Mistakes are going to happen and I am going to make sure we don't stop trying to play the right way. We have to take it on the chin and then we gifted them two goals", Rice said. For me watching them, I know how hard it is to play that way and feel comfortable under that pressure, but they've dealt with it in a good way and done it for a long time.