Euro 2020: ‘My dream finish to England’s story’ – Alan Sheareron July 9, 2021 at 10:32 am

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Former England captain and BBC Sport columnist Alan Shearer says Gareth Southgate and his side are on the verge of greatness after an amazing month, and reveals his dream finish to Euro 2020.

Alan Shearer

I’m 50 and we’ve not been to a major men’s final before in my lifetime. There are generations who are the same, who have never seen us get here before.

Waiting so long makes it feel even more special now we have made it – to be honest it is still sinking in.

Whether it be European Championships or World Cups, we’ve got used to labelling each finals by a disappointment – by remembering what went wrong or the moment where we were unlucky each time.

The first time I saw England reach a semi-final, it was the 1990 World Cup. I was 19 and watched us lose to West Germany on penalties while I was on a family holiday on Portugal.

In 1996, I was obviously on the pitch when the same thing happened at the European Championship. At the 2018 World Cup I was in the BBC studio in Moscow. It’s the same feeling, though, because you feel absolutely crushed whether you are watching or taking part.

This time, 25 years on from Euro 96, I was back at Wembley again, standing next to Gary Lineker on Wednesday night and screaming myself hoarse along with the rest of the crowd in one of the most tense, nerve-wracking games I’ve ever seen.

This time, though, it was different. We won. Denmark put up one heck of a fight but we got past them, and we deserved it too.

Yes, a big moment went our way with the penalty decision for Harry Kane’s winner, which is something we are not used to.

It wasn’t the first time we’ve had some luck at this tournament either – remember Thomas Muller’s miss for Germany in the last 16? – but let’s just hope we have a little bit more in the final.

To see this England team change the narrative and get there after all these years was just incredible. It’s been an amazing month, and now they are on the verge of greatness.

There is one game to go and they still need to finish the job against Italy but tactically, mentally and physically – they will be ready.

I can’t wait. I’m just hoping it is a Super Sunday in every way, and those boys and Gareth Southgate can go out and seize the moment, and create history.

Southgate has led England brilliantly

There are several reasons why I will believe in this England team when they walk out at Wembley on Sunday, and Southgate is the biggest one.

He’s led his team brilliantly in every way since Euro 2020 started and not only has he made some big decisions, he has got all of them right.

It’s easier being a player than a supporter in the stands and, like many of you, I’ve found it hard in the past few weeks watching on as an England fan when our games have been in the balance.

Just imagine how tough it is for Gareth, though. As England manager he has got 60 million people on his back because he carries the hopes of all of us, the entire nation.

There is so much scrutiny on every single call he makes, and then he has to stand alone on the touchline waiting for them to work.

So I could understand his relief and his reaction at the end of the Denmark game when he let his emotions pour out. He did that because he feels the same way we do when we win.

Whatever happens next, he has given us so much joy and happiness – but I’m desperate to see that same celebration again from him on Sunday night.

The dream finish?

There’s no doubt for me that the best two teams in the tournament have reached the final, and it is going to be an incredibly tight game.

Italy have gone 33 games without losing which shows how strong they are. They have got the same sort of togetherness in their squad that we have, and they have been hugely impressive ever since they got Euro 2020 started by beating Turkey in their first group game.

But England have put in some extremely good performances too, and so many of our players have done their bit when it has mattered.

It was Harry Kane who put us into the final with the winner on Wednesday and he was excellent for the whole game. So was Harry Maguire, and the rest of our back four too.

The best player on the park, though, was Raheem Sterling. He was unplayable at times and it was probably his finest game in an England shirt.

More of the same from Sterling on Sunday, and we have got one hell of a chance.

The other thing we have got going for us, of course, is the Wembley crowd. There will be more than 65,000 fans again at the final, and the majority of them will be behind England.

They were immense against Denmark and stuck with the team when they were 1-0 down. The players fed off their intensity when they turned things around.

You can be sure that England won’t have it all their own way on Sunday and there will be spells in the game when they will need that support again. I’ll be there, cheering them on – hoping to pull them over the line.

What’s the dream finish to England’s story? Well, after being top scorer at the 2018 World Cup Kane has got four goals at this tournament now and needs one more for a share of the golden boot.

Let’s hope he gets it by scoring the winner against Italy. I don’t care when it comes.

Alan Shearer was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.

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