Legends on the Euro 2020 Final
Sat 10 July 2021, 15:40|Tottenham Hotspur
England's day of destiny is fast approaching. Harry Kane will lead out the Three Lions in a major final for only the second time in the country's history - following the 1966 World Cup - when they take on Italy at Wembley in the showpiece match of Euro 2020 on Sunday (8pm).
We turned to our England legends to preview what could be an historic evening in the capital...
35 caps for England, 1964-71, World Cup quarter-finalist, 1970; 373 appearances for Spurs, 1964-72, captain 1968-72; FA Cup winner 1967, League Cup 1971, UEFA Cup 1972
“I’d love to see England win, but they are now playing a team who are unbeaten in 33 games, which is an incredible record. They’ve clearly got something about them. They’ve always been good defensively, Italian clubs and the international team. They have outstanding central defenders, although Bonucci is 34 and Chiellini is 36, that experience is top, top level. I believe we’ve got better and better throughout the tournament. I thought we were excellent against Denmark, 1-0 down, to win 2-1. It will be tough, and I’m not sure there will be many goals in it, both teams don’t give a lot away. If chances come along, we have to take them. The key? Score early. You then feel 10-feet tall. Just look at the game against Ukraine, where we scored after four minutes. If we score early, I think we’ll beat Italy. Either way, it will be an intriguing final.”
16 caps for England, 1982-92; 611 appearances for Spurs, 1982-98, captain for 11 years; UEFA Cup winner 1984, FA Cup 1991
“England have played excellent tournament football. We’ve not been outstanding, unbelievable, but we’ve done everything we’ve needed to do to win games. Gareth Southgate’s man-management skills means every player feels like they are part of the squad. Normally, you only get 11 happy players, the ones who are starting the games. In this case, he’s chopped and changed, brought players in for specific reasons and told the players his ideas, explained why they’re not playing and I just feel the camaraderie within this group... I honestly believe we’re going to win this tournament and win it with a real team effort, from Gareth to the staff to everyone in the squad, they have all pulled their weight, whether they’ve been on the field or not. For that reason, I would love the team to win. Yes, we’ve had a nice pathway through. In my opinion, Italy should have been beaten by Spain in the semi-final, they have an aging defence - which, talking from experience, is never good! - and when you are up against the likes of Sterling, Saka, Foden, Grealish, everything we have to throw at them, I just don’t seem them coping with it. I’m confident we’ll get a comfortable victory.”
30 caps for England, 1994-2001, ever-present in Euro 96, played and scored in 1998 World Cup; 358 appearances for Spurs, 1992-2004; League Cup winner 1999
"I think our name's on the cup! I think we're going to win it. We are playing great football, winning football. The semi-final was a great performance after the first half-hour, and we showed great character. We got stronger against Denmark in the semi-final, but I thought Italy got weaker against Spain. I think it will be tight, it could well go all the way, and our substitutes could play a big part if it goes to extra time. I just think we'll be too strong for them. I think we'll win 1-0 and Harry will score the winner. It would be brilliant to see him lift the trophy."
51 caps for England (38 at Spurs), 1993-2002, Euro 96 semi-finalist, played in 1998 and 2002 World Cups; 124 goals in 277 appearances for Spurs, 1992-2003, captain 2001-03; Golden Boot 1992/93, League Cup finalist 2002; Three titles including league, FA Cup, Champions League treble with United in 1999
“I think it will be a fantastic game and I’ll you why. We expect to win, we’ll go out to win and that’s the only way we can play. Italy will think exactly the same. They are 33 games unbeaten, they play, they attack, obviously very good defensively, but they attack with intent. They will expect to beat us, not hope to, but expect to, because that’s their nature, especially in tournament conditions. That makes for a great game. They will come out and attack us. If we were playing Denmark in the final, they would feel like underdogs, and it would be exactly how it was in the semi-final. But the Italians will open up, and that will give opportunities at both ends. I don’t think it will high scoring, but the intent will be there and that’s what I’m looking forward to. The atmosphere will be second to none, incredible. You will need to be focussed every second. One little slip, one moment of magic will decide this game. The players have carried out Gareth Southgate’s ideas down to the letter and if they do that again, I think they’ll come out on top. I think it will be 1-0, but an exciting 1-0, and our man is going to come good, isn’t he?”
21 caps for England, 2002-10, played in 2004 Euros and 2010 World Cup; 323 appearances for Spurs, 1999-2012, captain 2005-2012; League Cup winner 2008
“These are the best two teams in the tournament, and I’ve been really impressed with England, their positivity and lack of fear. It’s an advantage playing at home, but we’ve seen teams in the past struggle under the pressure. This team has shown no fear and galvanised the country. I think they’ll go into the game with a great attitude and have a great chance to win, judging by the way they’ve played the last few games. Italy will be a tough opponent. They will be up their old tricks in terms of game management, and they’ll look to stop the pace England have. I’d expect a tactical battle, for sure, but one England can win if they continue their positivity with everyone behind them. It would be great to see Harry lift the trophy, one of our own, the first since Bobby Moore to do so, that would make it even more special.”
One England cap v Italy, 2015; 70 appearances for Spurs, 2008-16, captain v Fiorentina in 2016, League Cup finalist 2015; Forced to retire aged 25; Now Head of Player Development; Interim Head Coach at the end of 2020/21
“It will be a tough game, but we’re England, we’re at Wembley and there is no doubt we have the best fans in the world. We’re a relatively small country, obsessed by sport. The pinnacle is football and we’re seeing it now, the whole country all together, and what those players are doing is inspiring. I want to go out there in the garden and play football with my kids. That’s what it does, the power of football, and to have Harry leading us out is pretty special.”