Glory is within England’s grasp. On Sunday evening the Three Lions can erase 55 years of hurt by opening a new chapter in this country’s sporting history.
It will be a story of guts, passion and hunger. A story of how a squad of young players found the belief to conquer one of football’s highest summits.
And how they lifted the spirits of a nation that had spent nearly 18 months living under the dark clouds of Covid.
The main author of this gripping tale is Gareth Southgate. The England manager embodies all that is best about his team and his country: humble, sincere and inclusive.
He more than anyone understands the pride of representing your nation and the heartache that comes with failure.
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He has witnessed both triumph and disaster and emerged the stronger.
We have waited for this moment for too long. For years we have sung Football’s Coming Home, more in hope than expectation.
These words could at last ring true. We could finally banish the ghosts of Italia 90, Euro 96 and Russia 2018.
The talent is there, just look at Raheem Sterling. The hunger is there, just look at Harry Kane. And the passion is there, just look at Jordan Pickford.
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They know Italy are formidable opponents and that they carry on their shoulders the expectations of the whole country.
This is an England team of which the whole nation can be proud. They are modest, altruistic and respectful. What they do off the pitch is as inspiring as what they do on it.
Even if they fail in their final endeavour they can walk away with their heads held high.
They have brought the country together and given us reasons for cheer and hope.
For decades we have recalled the heroes of 1966 as the height of England’s success.
In years to come we could recite the names of Sterling, Kane and Shaw in the same way this generation recalls Moore, Banks and Hurst.
New heroes will join the list of greats.
A place in history beckons. England are ready to answer their call.