England’s Gareth Southgate: ‘We’re so pleased for our country’

Gareth Southgate says England put behind the “suffering” of their World Cup defeat in 2018 to book their place in Sunday’s Euro 2020 final.

England lost to Croatia after extra time in the semi-finals of the World Cup three years ago.

But they came from behind to defeat Denmark on Wednesday, meaning they will compete in a men’s major tournament final for the first time in 55 years.

“We’ve managed to put that right,” Southgate told ITV.

“I’m so proud of the players. It’s an incredible occasion to be a part of. We knew it wouldn’t be straightforward.

“When you’ve waited as long as we have to get through a semi-final, the players – considering the limited international experience some of them have – have done an incredible job.

“The most pleasing thing is we’ve given the fans and nation a fantastic night and the journey carries on for another four days.

“We’ve got to enjoy the fact we’re in the final but there’s one more massive hurdle to conquer.”

England will face Italy in the final and will return to Wembley in front of around 60,000 fans on Sunday.

“We have one more step against a fantastic team,” Southgate added to BBC Radio 5 Live. “We know the size of the task, we know they have those two warriors at the back who have seen all this before.

“But what a brilliant moment for us. Let’s savour tonight then we can think about that on the coach back to Burton.”

Forward Raheem Sterling praised England’s response in the win over Denmark after they conceded their first goal in the tournament.

An own goal from Simon Kjaer cancelled out Mikkel Damsgaard’s opener before Harry Kane’s penalty in extra time.

“It was a top performance. We had to dig in deep,” said Sterling, who won the penalty which Kane converted at the second attempt, after Kasper Schmeichel saved his initial effort.

“It was the first time we conceded [in the tournament] but we responded well and showed good spirit. We knew it would be difficult.

“We stayed patient and we knew with the legs and aggressiveness we have in the team we’d be okay. It’s another step in the right direction.

“We have to focus on the weekend now. We know what football means to this country. Now we have Italy. We will celebrate a little bit then focus on Italy.”

Skipper Kane added: “We dug deep and we got there when it mattered. We reacted really well and we’re in a final at home. What a feeling.

“We know it’s going to be a very tough game against Italy. We’ve had a great tournament so far. One more game to go at home.”

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