LONDON (Dispatches) - England and Italy are counting down to Sunday’s Euro 2020 final, with Gareth Southgate’s men seeking to end a 55-year trophy drought but the Italians aiming to spoil the Wembley party.
Sporting immortality beckons for England captain Harry Kane and his team-mates, who are desperate to etch their names in the record books by winning just the second major trophy in the nation’s history.
Wembley, which was also the venue for England’s 1966 World Cup triumph, will host around 65,000 fans for the game despite coronavirus restrictions still in place.
England began the tournament as one of several contenders to lift the trophy and have taken advantage of playing all but one of their matches at home.
Southgate’s men will be willed on by the vast majority of a crowd that created a crackling atmosphere for England’s second-round match against Germany and the semifinal against Denmark.
“We’ve all waited so long as players, as public, as people to see us in a final,” said Kane. “So these are the opportunities you have to grab with both hands.
“We have an amazing chance to win our second major trophy as a country. The players we’ve had over the years and produced, we feel proud to be representing them as well.
“We’ve got to be excited for it, we’ve got to enjoy it, but of course, any football match, we’re all winners here, we all want to win, and we’re going to need every bit of that to get the job done on Sunday.”
Standing in England’s way are a battle-hardened Italy side who have restored the nation’s pride after failing even to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
England have never beaten Italy at a major tournament, although meetings between the nations have been few and far between.
Italy triumphed in a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-finals of Euro 2012 in Ukraine and won 2-1 when they met in the group stage of the 2014 World Cup, although both sides ended up being eliminated in the first round.