The euphoria surrounding the final at Wembley is unprecedented, but players and coach dig deep to draft the confidence needed and keep the tension at bay
England is pregnant with expectations. The euphoria surrounding Sunday’s Euro final against Italy at Wembley is unprecedented, but the players and coach are digging deep to regain the required confidence and keep the tension at bay.
So while coach Gareth Southgate is motivated – not burdened – by the responsibility of leading England to their first major football final in 55 years, captain Harry Kane also believes this historic game is an opportunity to ” remember the story “.
“This is a great moment in our history as a nation. The excitement is going to be through the roof; I’m sure there will be some nerves as well. It’s just about going out there and feeding off all that energy in the stadium and the crowd and trying to use that to our advantage, ”said Kane, as quoted by uefa.com.
Recognizing the importance of the game, the 27-year-old forward said: “In 1966, obviously England won the World Cup and it was such an incredible achievement … Now we have this opportunity to create even more history, and (for) our parents and family members who have never seen England in the final before… If we can finish the job and win, then obviously we will remember the history for the rest of our lives This is the challenge we have.
Southgate is not losing sight of it either. Patriotism is comfortably installed with the coach at a time when Britain – a country made up of England, Scotland, Wales and the North
Ireland – tries to redefine itself after leaving the European Union. “We have so much here that we should be proud of that we are probably underestimating it,” he said on Friday.
While his predecessors as England coach limited themselves to talking about issues on the pitch, Southgate has often spoken about the role of sport in uniting the country since the 2016 Brexit referendum.
It’s also a big time for someone like Raheem Sterling.
Of the 10 goals Southgate’s side have scored in the tournament, Sterling has had his fingerprints on seven of them, providing the tip of England’s carefully crafted machine and frequently finding the decisive goal.
Sterling also had a point to prove after failing to score in his 12 previous major tournament appearances and being partly blamed by the media for England’s poor performance at Euro 2016.
Sterling’s impressive performances did not surprise former England defender Rio Ferdinand, who revealed that on the morning of the opener with Croatia, Sterling was feeling very motivated and told him over the phone: “This is it. ‘time.”
The English side are more or less carefree but 21-year-old midfielder Phil Foden did not make it to Saturday’s team training session as a precaution due to a minor injury.
England wrote on Twitter: “25 players are in training this morning as the Three Lions prepare for Italy, with Phil Foden out due to a minor blow.”
Southgate has no shortage of options on the right side of the attack where Foden usually plays, with several players vying for the place including Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth also doesn’t want to be banned from the football festival as she has sent a message to Southgate to wish the team the best of luck.
The monarch wrote a letter to the England manager in which she recalled her memory of the World Cup presentation to England in 1966 and the joy it brought.
“I want… to send my best wishes for tomorrow in the hope that history will record not only your success but also the spirit, commitment and pride with which you have conducted yourself,” she wrote.
Written with contributions from the agency