LONDON, Nov 22 (Reuters) - British media stuck the boot into England's soccer team on Thursday, branding them the 'joke of European football' after defeat by Croatia knocked them out of Euro 2008.
Calls for manager Steve McClaren's head started seconds after England's 3-2 loss at Wembley ended their hopes of reaching next year's tournament in Austria and Switzerland.
'Useless, pathetic, insipid, spineless, desperate, rubbish,' tabloid The Sun reported. 'England are the joke of European football.
'Thrown a lifeline by Israel at the weekend, England opted for suicide led by goalkeeper Scott Carson whose howler set us on the way to Euro 2008 elimination.'
'This is as bad as it gets. This defeat ranked alongside the draw with Poland 34 years ago - which cost us a place at the 1974 World Cup - in England's hall of shame.'
The Daily Mail laid out the stark facts.
'England's golden generation end their international careers in failure,' the headline read.
'For the last decade, England's quest to prove themselves as a football nation worthy of genuine respect has been built around the likes of David Beckham, Gary Neville, Sol Campbell, Michael Owen and David James,' the newspaper reported.
'Sadly, the task has proved beyond them.'
The Daily Telegraph was no less scathing.
'Outclassed, outfought and outthought, England are out of Euro 2008 and Steve McClaren will surely be out of work after the FA board meet this morning, deservedly so,' it reported.
'Russia qualify behind the outstanding Croatians and England have only themselves, and their hapless manager, to blame.'
England's loss to Croatia confirmed their absence from a major tournament for the first time since the 1994 World Cup in the United States.