Gareth Southgate: Euro 2020 semi-final a “very special opportunity” for England
England have a “very special opportunity” to make the country happy when they face Denmark in the Euro 2020 semi-final on Wednesday, manager Gareth Southgate said.
They are now returning to Wembley – the site of their last appearance in the Men’s Euro semi-finals 25 years ago.
“The games in England bring families and communities together,” Southgate said.
Speaking to BBC sports editor Dan Roan, he added: “The opportunity to bring happiness and create brilliant nights for our fans, our nation, is a very special opportunity that you have when you play with England.
“These are games that you remember where you were at and some of the nicest messages you get are that people appreciate the way the players have been – that they feel they can connect with them – they should. to be very proud of it. “
England’s victory on Wednesday would see them reach the final of a major tournament for the first time since their 1966 World Cup victory.
When asked what it would mean for him to reach the final, Southgate said: “That’s really what it means for the country.
“If you are a coach, it’s kind of like being a parent – you are past the time when it comes to you and what you pass on to others.”
He added that the team’s experience of reaching the last four of the 2018 World Cup in Russia could help his team to go further this time: “We are better prepared for this semi-final as we experienced it before.
“And while that doesn’t determine whether you win or lose a football match, there are a lot of factors that we are aware of and have dealt with before that help you prepare better.
“So, for example, after the match in Rome the celebrations were at a certain level, while in Russia, probably, to go through the first knockout game and the quarter-final, took a lot of emotional energy.
“In Rome, everyone was pretty calm about what was going on and we knew we hadn’t achieved what we wanted yet, so these things are what set you up for a great game like this.”
‘Injured’ can inspire England – Maguire
England lost that World Cup semi-final three years ago, losing 2-1 to Croatia in Moscow.
And Manchester United defender Harry Maguire has said they “have to make sure” that result does not happen again on Wednesday.
“The motivation is there,” Maguire said. “Losing the World Cup semi-final hurt a lot.”
Maguire, who recovered from an ankle injury to start England’s last three games, said Southgate’s side have improved significantly since the World Cup.
“I think we are in a much better position than we were,” he said.
“We have learned from that experience. We had a lot of big games during this period to improve and a lot of time spent together on the training ground, in friendlies and in qualifying. Every game which we play, we think we are improving.
“In this tournament, from the first game to the game against Ukraine, there are a lot of differences in the principles that we demand from each other. Of course, we are in a better position now, but we still have a long way to go. to be continued.”
“We want to create our own story” – Trippier
Defender Kieran Trippier, whose free-kick goal gave English fans hope in the 2018 World Cup semi-final, said he had “no regrets” from that point on. there and now focus on demonstrating the progress they have made since then.
“We’re now in a position where we just want to create our own story. That’s all we want to do.
“There are maybe six or seven of us on the World Cup squad. We have so many great young talents.
“It’s there so that everyone can see the offensive players that we have. I think we’ve taken that step forward from 2018.”
The Atletico Madrid player has said he will not let the opportunity come to him when he faces Denmark on Wednesday night.
“I don’t get nervous… I’ve played in a lot of big games now, so when I get to the semi-finals it’s just excitement. You see the place, you see the whole nation. .
“Everyone is buzzing and it’s just good to see smiles on everyone’s faces and after a year and a half we’ve all had it’s good for them all to smile again.”