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Southgate urges England to reach first final since 1966

England manager Gareth Southgate has called upon his players to reach England’s first tournament final since 1966.

Ahead of the Three Lions Euro 2020 semi-final against Denmark, Southgate has urged his squad to end the semi-final hoodoo they have suffered since their 1966 World Cup triumph.

Since 1966, England have reached four tournament semi-finals, in 1968, 1990, 1996 and most recently in 2018 – losing all four.

England following defeat to Croatia in the 2018 World Cup semi-final. (Photo by Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Pre-match quotes

Ahead of the Denmark game, Southgate has commented: “We’ve knocked off so many hoodoos or perceived barriers already and I feel like this group of players will feel this is just the next challenge.

“I guess the interesting part for us is we won’t feel totally satisfied if it’s just a semi-final for us, whereas maybe three years ago, although there was massive disappointment after the semi-final, there was a feeling we’d come a long way.”

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Southgate continued: “Now we’ve replicated what we did there, but that won’t be enough to fulfil the group. That’s a positive sign.

“The other thing that is so positive, these young players – 18,19,20,21 – are getting more experiences of England that are positive and enjoyable and they’re feeling what it can be like to be in and England shirt and have fun and win matches and have a relationship with the fans that is positive.

Gareth Southgate ahead of England vs Denmark. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

“That’s so important for a generation to come. We’ll get more out of their talent if we can keep that relationship with the fans.”

In his interview, Southgate alluded to the 2018 World Cup. Many fans didn’t give England much of a chance, and to reach a semi-final felt like a huge achievement. However, this time around their has been a weight of expectation on the shoulders of the squad – a key difference to 2018.

“It’s great to be coming back (to Wembley) now”, said Southgate, “To go and have that different environment, preparation, focus was definitely helpful.

“But now to be coming back to Wembley is a great thing for us.”

Featured image credit: (Photo by Eddie Keogh – The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

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