England are “here to win” in the Euro 2020 final and “want to go and bring the trophy home”, says manager Gareth Southgate.
On the eve of the Three Lions’ historic clash against Italy, Southgate said his side are ready and insisted that it will be “just a normal match day”.
During a news conference alongside his captain Harry Kane, the England manager said: “We’re in a final and we are here to win.”
“Everything is important, how we’ve represented people and we’re pleased that legacy has been there but now we want to go and bring the trophy home for everybody,” he added.
Southgate said that the Italian squad have “fantastic players all the way through” and “are on an amazing run” – but that England “have our own strengths”.
Kane heaped praise on the Italian centre-backs Giorgio Chiellini and Leonard Bonucci and said he was relishing the challenge of facing them.
“They are two amazing defenders,” he said. “They have had great experience in big matches over their careers. I want to play against the best centre-backs in the world and those two are definitely up there.”
“But it’s not about me,” he said. “The game is about England v Italy and we have a great belief in the team. We have great strength in the squad and a lot can happen in a final and we need to make sure we’re on the right side of it.”
The Italian captain Chiellini was equally complimentary about Kane and said he was looking forward to a “tough battle, but an exciting one” with the England captain.
“I remember the first time I came up against Harry Kane, it was a friendly in Turin against England. He immediately impressed me for just how many different attributes he has,” Chiellini said.
“Kane is very technical, he shoots well from distance and is good in the air, he takes free-kicks. He is a player who impressed me right from day one. I played against him in a [Champions League] game for Tottenham and I am a really big fan of him,” he added.
Chiellini said that himself and Bonucci would need to be on their toes and use their experience to handle England’s quicker forwards.
“If I try and match them in a foot race, me against Sterling, I don’t think I would ever beat him to the punch,” added the captain.
“But maybe in situations where the ball is there to be won and it is a slightly more physical 50/50, or if there is a long ball forward from the goalkeeper, I might be more likely to win the header so I need to try to limit their attributes.”
Roberto Mancini, who is best known in England for leading Manchester City to their first Premier League title, said the Italian team “need to stay calm” against England.
“We know what a tough game it will be, for a number of reasons. England are a good side and have a lot of good players on the bench, but if we have made it this far that also means that we are a good team.
“We need to be absolutely concentrated on our football and understand it is the final hurdle,” he added.
With just 1,000 Italy fans able to travel over for the game, England will enjoy the support of the vast majority of the 65,000 attendance at Wembley.
Southgate encouraged England’s fans to enjoy the game respectfully and without booing the Italian national anthem.
“It’s important our fans always respect the opposition,” he said. “We know that when we play abroad and fans boo our anthem it inspires them more. I don’t think it will help the team.
“We can intimidate the team booing during the game, but it is different for the anthem,” he added.
The Queen has sent a personal message to Southgate ahead of the Euro 2020 final, praising his team’s “spirit, commitment and pride”, as she recalled her memories of their last major tournament victory 55 years ago.
“It has been fantastic to have the letter from the Queen and the prime minister to all of the team and the recognition the players have gone about this in the right way,” Southgate said during the press conference.
“But we’re in a final and we’re here to win,” he stressed.
Asked if he had allowed himself to think about what winning would be like, the manager said: “At the back of your mind you always have to have a bit of a vision on how you would like to see the end and play that out.
“But the reality is you have to focus on the processes and focus on the performance and that’s what we have always done with this team,” he added.
“It’s important the players have an understanding of that,” Southgate said. “Whatever path the game takes, [it is important for the players that] they are prepared and they are ready.
“If you start to think about the end then you’re probably heading in the wrong direction and we’ve just got to control the bits we can control.”
He added that it wasn’t about the team playing the best game of their lives, to sounds of approval from Harry Kane.
“It’s not necessarily about doing better. The key is to hit your normal level,” Southgate explained.
“Lots of teams in finals end up under-performing. It’s about transferring what you do on training pitch into the match. This game now is a different tactical challenge and we have got to prepare properly for that.”
Harry Kane responded to one question praising the lack of mind games from the England camp by saying that was “the personality of a lot of the lads in the squad. They are humble, they are respectful,” he added.
Kane also said the number of club captains within the England camp was “a massive strength of ours as a squad”.
“As a captain, it’s not an easy job. But it definitely helps when it’s not just one voice but it’s many voices who help out before and after games,” Kane said.
“We wouldn’t be where we are without those players. They have given a good vision for the younger players as well. They play an important role.”
Southgate confirmed that Phil Foden’s foot injury means it is “doubtful” he will take part in the final.
“We’ve been on the bus for the last couple of hours so the medical team will give us an update later. He’s definitely doubtful although it’s not something serious. It’s just whether it will keep him out of this particular game.”