England World Cup hero Sir Geoff Hurst fully behind Gareth Southgate’s side – Sky Sports

Football

Sir Geoff Hurst is fully behind Gareth Southgate’s England side claiming a first major title since 1966, saying anything other than his 100 per cent backing would be “nonsense”.

The Three Lions will face Italy at Wembley on Sunday in their first major final in 55 years after beating Denmark 2-1 in extra-time on Wednesday night to book their place.

England have never played in a European Championship final and will be looking to win just their second piece of major silverware after winning the 1966 World Cup.

And should they do so, the triumph would be up there with the legends of Sir Alf Ramsey’s side with Hurst more than happy to share the footballing limelight with a new set of heroes.

“The cynics will look at me and say that I don’t want England to do well, win the World Cup or the Euros which is absolute nonsense,” Sir Geoff Hurst said.

“I understand more than anyone how important it is for our national team to be successful, for themselves and for the country.

“So I am a fan and I want us to do well and to win – that’s what I was brought up to do as a player and what I want us to do as a fan now.

“I am as thrilled and as happy if we are doing well in tournaments as any other fan in England.”

Hurst, who still gets fan mail from across the globe for his achievements over five decades ago, says winning silverware with England was lifechanging.

“The enjoyment, of winning a World Cup in your own country, simply lasts forever,” Hurst added.

“Hardly a day goes by, almost daily and just as much today as weeks or months after winning it that the euphoria is still there and the memories of it are brought up by someone.

“It’s astonishing really what happened back then is still affecting my life today.”

Italy's strong team spirit under Roberto Mancini has helped to see them flourish during Euro 2020 0:52
Sir Geoff Hurst has been impressed by Italy’s strong team spirit which has helped them to a Euro 2020 final showdown with England at Wembley on Sunday

‘Togetherness is key to win a major tournament’

Much of England’s success under Southgate has been down the England boss’ ability to shake off the shackles of inter-club rivalries to create a fully harmonious squad.

But for Hurst, another side’s team spirit appears to stand-out even more – that of fellow finalists Italy who have been galvanised together by former Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini.

“Fundamentally I have always believed very strongly that the team spirit, camaraderie and togetherness of a group of players is very important to be successful.” Hurst said.

“I look at the current Italian team and I find their celebrations are tumultuous where the whole squad, as soon as they have a result and success they are altogether – more so than in the celebrations we have seen with the other teams.

“And that is fundamental to being successful – that togetherness.”

Podcast: It’s nearly home… How the ‘new England’ could go all the way

Drink it in… England are in a major tournament final for the first time since 1966 after their extra-time win over Denmark at Wembley in semi-final of Euro 2020.

Kate Burlaga is joined by Rob Dorsett, Pete Smith and Nick Wright to discuss an historic night, and whether this ‘new England’ side can go all the way against Italy on Sunday.

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