Hopes of a nation rest with England footballers for Euros final clash

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Captain Harry Kane said his team hopes to do England fans proud in the bid for Euro 2020 glory, as the Queen and Prime Minister threw their support behind the nation’s footballers.

The monarch paid tribute to the “spirit, commitment and pride” of the squad in a good luck message ahead of Sunday’s final on home turf, while her grandson the Duke of Cambridge said it is “so exciting” to get to this point.

Boris Johnson has also written to the team, telling manager Gareth Southgate and the players they had “already made history” by reaching the final.

In her written message, the Queen recalled presenting the Jules Rimet trophy to Bobby Moore almost six decades ago.

She said: “Fifty-five years ago I was fortunate to present the World Cup to Bobby Moore and saw what it meant to the players, management and support staff to reach and win the final of a major international football tournament.

“I want to send my congratulations and that of my family to you all on reaching the final of the European Championships, and send my good wishes for tomorrow with the hope that history will record not only your success but also the spirit, commitment and pride with which you have conducted yourselves.”

In a video message to be posted later on Sunday, Football Association president William said: “I can’t really believe this is happening. So exciting and I just wish you the very best of luck.

“You bring out the very best of England and we are all behind you. The whole country is behind you. So, bring it home.”

Echoing that sentiment in his letter, Mr Johnson said: “You have lifted the spirits of the whole country, and tomorrow we know you can lift that trophy too.

“We are not just hoping or praying. We believe in you, Gareth, and your incredible squad.”

A good luck message on the White Cliffs of Dover (PA)
A good luck message on the White Cliffs of Dover (Handout/PA)

He told reporters at a press conference on Saturday evening: “We want to go and bring the trophy home.”

Skipper Kane said the team hopes to do the nation proud when they take to the pitch.

He said: “We know how much it means to the English fans all over the country so we’re proud to be representing them and hopefully we can do them proud again.”

Away from political support, the team has also gained well wishes from the world of celebrity.

Mission Impossible and Top Gun actor Tom Cruise, who has been in London this weekend, called the players to tell them good luck, Kane revealed.

Football fans lined the road and waved flags as they cheered the team bus on its departure from the England training complex on Saturday.

A video was tweeted from the official England team account with the message: “Wow… what a send-off! Amazing scenes as the #ThreeLions depart St George’s Park for the final time.”

Southgate has appealed to England’s supporters to “respect the opposition”, after booing could be heard during other teams’ anthems at previous matches.

He said: “We know that in actual fact when we play abroad and fans boo our anthem it probably inspires us even more, so I don’t think it will help the team.”

Under his management, the team has been hailed for its social conscience which has seen squad members saluted for taking the knee against racism, making a stand on donating to the NHS, and taking the fight for free school meals to Downing Street.

Across England, fans have been savouring the run-up to a game that could see the country crowned champions of Europe.

Houses have been bedecked with flags amid a surge in demand for England-themed paraphernalia, the Shard in London was lit up in the team colours, and residents on one street have even patriotically renamed their road in honour of the Three Lions.

Wales Street, in Oldham, Greater Manchester, has become England Street, with a new red-and-white sign erected above the original.

England v Denmark
England players taking the knee (Mike Egerton/PA)

London’s transport network will display digital well wishes across the capital, visible at Tube stations, the DLR and London Overground as well as at bus stops and on road traffic alert signs.

The Metropolitan Police has urged fans not to come to London unless they have match tickets or somewhere booked to watch the game.

The force said it will be deploying “a great many officers and specialist units to prevent crime and disorder and respond to any incidents right across London”.

The British Beer & Pub Association predicts England fans will buy 7.1 million pints on Sunday, while over the weekend an estimated £750 million is expected to be withdrawn from cash machines – up 12% on the same period a year earlier, according to ATM network Link.

In a welcome economic boost, by the end of the competition, it is estimated that £815 million will have been spent in pubs and hospitality venues, with 32.6 million pints sold, a report by Vouchercodes.co.uk and the Centre for Retail Research (CRR) said.

A number of schools have already said they will allow pupils to start later on Monday if they wish to and some employers are considering letting staff enjoy a celebratory – or consolatory – lie-in after what could be a very late night.

The final – which is expected to attract a record television audience – is due to kick off at 8pm and will finish by 10pm if it ends in normal time, but could end closer to 11pm if there is extra time or a penalty shootout.

The Met Office says there is a 50-60% chance of rain at Wembley between 8pm and 10pm.

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