England bids for first World Cup final since 1966

Gareth Southgate has revealed he can finally bring himself to listen to Three Lions as the England team – and fans across the country – gear up for tonight's World Cup semi-final.

Thousands of supporters in Russia and millions at home will watch nervously as the team face Croatia for the right to play in Sunday's final – and potentially end 52 years without a major trophy.

On the eve of the game, England manager Southgate said he hoped the team's successful run at the tournament would help unify the country after "some difficult moments" in recent years – an apparent reference to Brexit.

He also admitted he had reconciled with Baddiel and Skinner's popular football anthem, which was first released to coincide with Euro 96 when Southgate's missed penalty saw England knocked out.

Image: Gareth Southgate and Jordan Henderson attended an England pitch inspection

"Football's coming home…I couldn't listen to it for 20 years, frankly," Southgate said.

"It has a slightly different feel for me, but it's nice to hear people enjoying it again."

He added: "Our country has been through some difficult moments recently in terms of its unity, and sport has the power to do that (unite people).

"Football in particular has the power to do that. We can feel the energy and feel support from home and it's a very special feeling, a privilege for us."

Video: Party atmosphere as England go through

Pubs and big screen areas across the country are expected to be packed on Wednesday evening for the England match.

Some 30,000 people will gather in London's Hyde Park to watch the game, with the Lightning Seeds set to perform Three Lions before kick-off.

Justin Timberlake, who is performing at London's 02 Arena, has promised to show the match on big screens at the venue before the start of his concert.

England fans have been warned against alcohol-fuelled "senseless behaviour" after police dealt with hundreds of incidents following the team's quarter final victory over Sweden.

The National Police Chiefs' Council said there had been 1,086 football-related incidents since the tournament began, with 226 incidents related to domestic abuse and 230 arrests being made.

England fans set off smoke bombs after the match
Image: England fans set off smoke bombs after the Sweden match

England will play France if they reach the final and World Cup-winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks was in confident mood about the team's chances of victory.

:: Pogba dedicates France semi-final win to Thai cave boys

More from UK

"The team is getting better and better with every game and that was the same with us in 1966 which is why I'm quietly optimistic," he said.

England will play Croatia at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium at 7pm UK time.

Original Article

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *