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Ashley Cole on big-game mentality, Italy and England’s final mission

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In an interview on the hugely popular @EURO2020 TikTok account, former England and Roma defender Ashley Cole lets us inside the mind of a player before a big game, pays tribute to Gareth Southgate and weighs up England’s UEFA EURO 2020 final opponents Italy.


Mindset in the tunnel

You’re always looking at your opponent, you’re always looking at what they’re doing. I’d be chilling, stretching, showing I’m not fazed by the game. I might get a ball, bounce it, get their attention – if I can get that little edge, 1% more, it’s going to help me.

The roar of the crowd

It’s amazing, but the players have got to handle it. They want the fans onside and to feel the emotion and excitement that fans generate, but ultimately you’re also carrying the burden of expectation and pressure of the fans. They’ve got to find that balance, to go out cool, calm and collected.

Memories of EURO 2004

The battle with Cristiano Ronaldo [in the quarter-finals] sticks out, but ultimately we lost that one. It was a tough battle, and to go out on penalties with such a great side was disappointing. We always fell a little bit short. It was hard coming back and facing the music – we were dubbed the golden generation and we didn’t perform to the level we should have.

This England team

Gareth Southgate has created a good environment for the players to thrive, to learn and improve. He embraced the fans and has created a bond between them and the players. There’s a family vibe. Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips have been epic in these finals. They take it in turns going forward or both sit in and allow the likes of Luke Shaw to push on. He has been sensational with the timing of his runs. We’re finding better balls into Harry Kane.

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Final opponents Italy

They’ve got that togetherness too. Roberto Mancini has got the team playing how the Italian fans want them to play: aggressing, pressing high, winning the ball back, being brave, playing out from the back. Italy got a little bit lucky in the semi-finals, but they dug deep. They’ve got all the ingredients to be champions.

The Azzurri’s threat

Gianluigi Donnarumma has been sensational. They’re defensively solid with those war horses, even if Leonardo Spinazzola is a big miss. Federico Chiesa is phenomenal; Lorenzo Insigne is so clever, coming into little pockets that make it hard to find him; Ciro Immobile is always a threat with his speed in behind. England will have to be at the top of their game, but I think they will be.



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