Gareth Southgate has spoken of his pride in his country’s history, and his squad’s role in driving “tolerance and inclusion” in modern England, as he rallied fans across the nation who are preparing for the Euro 2020 final.
As the England manager readies himself for his team’s own place in history, he said he wanted his players to help do “positive things that we could help to change or influence in society”.
An expectant nation is set to spend millions of pounds today readying itself for Sunday’s showdown with Italy at Wembley for the chance to be crowned champions of Europe.
Supermarkets are preparing for a sales bonanza as Britons get set for the biggest football match since 1966, for which there is likely to be a record TV audience.
It is predicted England fans will fans will buy millions of pints on Sunday, take out hundreds of million of pounds out in cash – and some are even changing their names of their streets to show their backing for the Three Lions.
Southgate’s England team has been hailed for its social conscience which has seen squad members saluted for taking the knee against racism, making a stand on donating to the NHS, and taking the fight for free school means to Downing Street.
But as well as acknowledging a forward-looking nation, Southgate – whose grandfather saw service in the Second World War – is keen to hail its history and values.
He said: “For an island our size we’ve got an incredible influence on the world and we’ve got to keep that in a positive way. There are historic things that we should be proud of.
Values that my parents gave me
“At heart I go back to the values that my parents gave me and treating people as you would want to be treated. Just respectful, really.
“We have so many things here that we should be proud of that we probably underestimate that.”
He added that “there are positive things that we could help to change or influence in society”.
He said: “The longer I’ve been in the role the more I’ve understood the importance for our fans of that connection with the team.
“They felt part of it and that inclusivity is really important to us because I think that’s what modern England is.
“We know it hasn’t always been the case and there’s historic reasons for that, but that level of tolerance and inclusion is what we have to be about moving forward.”
Ending with a victory at Wembley would mark the men’s football team’s first major tournament win since the famous 1966 World Cup, also at Wembley.
Win the game for them
England skipper Harry Kane also acknowledged the strength of public feeling that was behind the team and national excitement that has built throughout the tournament.
“They’ll all be cheering us on around the country and we just can’t wait to hopefully try to win the game for them,” he said.