England’s Gareth Southgate asks fans to not boo Italy anthem

Gareth Southgate has warned England supporters not to boo the Italian national anthem at Sunday’s Euro 2020 final.

The Football Association were fined £26,600 by UEFA after a series of incidents involving fans during Wednesday’s semifinal win over Denmark. A laser pen was shone in the eyes of Danish goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel while fireworks were set off and “disturbances” were identified during the Danish anthem.

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Around 65,000 fans are expected at Wembley on Sunday evening as England aim to beat Italy and win their first tournament in 55 years and Southgate said: “It is important that our fans always respect the opposition.

“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. I think we can intimidate the team with booing during the game but it is different for the anthem. We should be respectful.”

The England squad have received messages of support from Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Boris Johnson before hundreds of fans gathered outside St George’s Park as their left their training base to travel to London on Saturday afternoon.

“It has been fantastic to have a letter from the Queen, a letter from the Prime Minister to all of the team and the recognition that the players and all of the staff have gone about this in the right way,” said Southgate. “We had a fabulous reception when we left St George’s. All the local villages had come out lining the route, people pulled over in lay-bys so you got more of a sense of what has been going on outside the bubble we’ve been in. But it always comes back to tomorrow. We are in a final, we are here to win.

“It is important how we’ve represented people and we are pleased that legacy has been there but now we want to go and bring the trophy home for everybody.”

As far as squad fitness, Phil Foden is a doubt for the game after missing the team’s final training session with a foot problem.

“We’ve been on the bus for the last couple of hours so the medical team will give us a final update on that later,” explained Southgate. “But he is definitely doubtful, although it Is not something that is serious, it is just a case of whether it is going to keep him out of this particular game.”

Captain Harry Kane will lead England’s attack as he aims to lift the trophy and also take home the Golden Boot for topping the competition’s goalscoring charts. Kane failed to find the net in England’s first three games but now has four goals to his name, one behind front-runner Cristiano Ronaldo and the Tottenham Hotspur striker explained how he has learned to conserve his mental energy after his experience of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The 27-year-old won the Golden Boot at that tournament but failed to score in England’s final three matches as they ended in fourth place.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’d have loved to have scored three or four goals in the group stage and got off to a fantastic start and gone on from there,” he said. “It was more about the energy. I felt like in the World Cup, it was such an amazing start, starting with Tunisia, scoring in the last minute. A lot of energy after that game was used in terms of the emotion and everything like that.

“Panama, the same, we had an amazing game. I scored a hat-trick. And there was a lot of talk, a lot of mental energy. Colombia [in the last 16] was the same. Not just physically but I felt like mentally, I lost a little bit towards the latter stages.

“So going into this one with a bit more experience, it was just about not getting too carried away, whether I score, don’t score.

“Obviously we were winning games which was the most important thing so it is just about staying in the moment, not getting carried away, knowing that as a player, as a team, we are on the right track and thankfully it has worked out pretty well. I guess that is all part of the learning curve of playing in major tournaments, gaining that experience. Hopefully I’ve got enough left to finish the job tomorrow.”

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England’s Gareth Southgate asks fans to not boo Italy anthem

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