London: Gareth Southgate urged England to end their historic Euro 2020 campaign in a burst of glory as they try to win the tournament for the first time in the final against Italy tonight.
England reached their first grand final since winning the 1966 World Cup, throwing the country into a frenzy ahead of the Wembley showdown.
Queen Elizabeth and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson are among the supporters sending good luck messages to Southgate and his team.
After enjoying an enthusiastic departure from hundreds of fans as they left their St George’s Park base for the team hotel on Saturday, England boss Southgate is well aware of the desire ardent nation to end drought trophies.
On the eve of the Biggest Three Lions game in 55 years, he called on his players to use that passion as fuel to make history.
“It was fantastic to have the Queen’s letter, the Prime Minister’s letter to the whole team. Recognition that the players and all the staff got around this the right way, ”Southgate said.
“We had a fantastic reception when we left St George’s Park. All the local villages had come out to line up the road and people pulled over to give you a sense of what was going on outside of the bubble we were in. The players need to feel that warmth and that support. It certainly helped inspire us. We are in the final and we are here to win. Now we want to go and take the trophy home for everyone. “
When Southgate took over in 2016, it was hard to imagine England would ever reach this point.
At the time, England were laughed at after Roy Hodgson presided over a humiliating Euro 2016 exit against Iceland, a debacle which was followed months later by the sacking of Sam Allardyce after only one match following a newspaper bite.
“When we started three or four years ago we had people throwing paper planes, they weren’t behind the team and there was apathy,” Southgate said.
“Now the energy in the stadium is fantastic. It is so important.”
Southgate’s Quiet Revolution gradually put England back on track and they reached the 2018 World Cup semi-finals, before his introduction of a crop of dynamic young stars reaped rich rewards at this tournament. .
Asked if he had ever considered what it would be like to follow Alf Ramsey as the second England manager to get his hands on a major award, Southgate said: “Deep in your mind you must always have a vision of how you’d like to see the end and play that. But the reality is you have to focus on the process and the performance. That’s what we’ve always done with this team. It’s important that the players understand that Whatever path the game takes, they are prepared and they are ready. “
Feet on the ground
After the emotional spike of coming back from a goal behind to beat Denmark in Wednesday’s semi-final, Southgate focused on keeping their players’ feet on the ground.
“We’ve been talking to players for years about the importance of staying disciplined on the pitch, staying calm, and I think that’s the key,” he said.
“The players know the atmosphere around you can be intense, but you have to stay focused. It is not necessarily about doing better. The key is to reach your normal level. Many teams in the final end up underperforming. “
Southgate is full of admiration for Roberto Mancini’s Italy, who has shone throughout the tournament and is unbeaten in 33 matches.
“There are fantastic players throughout the Italian squad, they have a good tactical plan, an experienced coach and are on an incredible run,” said Southgate.
“We have our own strengths. We have tried to play according to ours and we have to do the same tonight. “