Gary Lineker has praised the England team for bringing the country together ahead of Sunday’s Euro 2020 final against Italy.
Gareth Southgate’s side have won the support of the entire nation ahead of their first major final since 1966 and have found form at the perfect time, sealing impressive victories over Germany, Ukraine and Denmark in the knockout stages.
It’s brought the nation together, and Lineker was keen to heap praise on the Three Lions for creating such a magical moment after 18 months of struggle.
“Think about it. What unites us as a nation like football? Nothing. It is a kind of magic, really,” he wrote for The Players’ Tribune. “That is the power of football. The power of England.
“And this team in particular – this group of 26 young lads and their manager – has taken it to another level, bringing so much pride, joy and togetherness to a nation that is so often stuck in division.
“In their brilliance on and off the field, this team represents the very best of England in its diversity, dignity and shining social conscience. To a man, they are thoughtful, empathetic and articulate. And they are changing what it means to be an England footballer.
“It’s incredible, really, especially when you consider how young they are — they’re just kids! Though I can’t claim any part in their development, watching them I feel like a proud father.
“When I was in my 20s, I wouldn’t say boo to a goose, let alone do the things that Marcus Rashford — though it should never have to be his responsibility — is doing to help underprivileged youth. The same goes for the amazing work of Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling and many more. They are truly inspirational, and also brilliant footballers. And we the fans have responded to that.”
Lineker urged the players to just keep doing what they have been doing this summer to give the English supporters one more unforgettable moment.
“I’ve got no special advice to give you players ahead of tonight,” he added. “You’ve made it further in a tournament than I ever did.
“No one needs to hype you up for this game. You know what this means and what you’ve got to do. You are the right players at the right time with the right man in charge.
“All I want to say to you is that the country is really proud of you. You’ve given everything and you’ve stuck together. Now there is one more step. Just more of the same, please.”