English fans celebrate
English fans celebrate
AFP

Wembley: It has taken over five decades for England to have been in the limelight in a big stage of world football, and some say the curse is over, as England is staring to dream run at the Wembley Stadium, a first major final since their 1966 World Cup victory.

It may have taken 55 years, and 120 nerve-fraying minutes at Wembley, but Harry Kane’s goal in the 104th minute held as the difference for a delirious home crowd of about 67,000.

Outside Wembley, all over England, fans erupted in elation and relief after Kane scored on his own rebound after Danish keeper Kasper Schmeichel stopped his strike from the penalty spot.

The Three Lions reached their first major final since the 1966 World Cup with a dramatic win over Denmark, which went all the way to extra-time, on Wednesday night.

All the years of hurt, England fans sing about it. All that sense of entitlement, rival fans are irritated by it.

After decades of embarrassment and moaning at tournaments, the English have a chance to finally back up the bravado, just listen to the team anthem, Football's Coming Home, with a trophy.

The nation that lays claim to being the inventor of soccer, but is more fittingly one of the sport's great underachievers, is back in a final, against Italy in the European Championships.

Even less illustrious national teams like Denmark and Greece have won trophies since then. But England became all about falling short on a world stage it felt it should dominate.

What a brilliant moment for us,” England coach Gareth Southgate said on the field with fans still singing into the night at Wembley. Let's saviour this.”

No way were the England players missing out on the chance to lap up the acclaim of a crowd waiting for this healing moment, not only to reach a final again but to gather in such big numbers again as the pandemic-restricted capacity swelled to 66,000

It's too late,” Southgate quipped discussing any attempt to curtail the exuberance. “We all let ourselves down on the pitch.”

The celebrations were a reflection of the bond the coach has forged between the national team and an English public that seemed disillusioned with the hubris and dreary performances before Southgate's overhaul began in 2016.

It was that tournament that saw the introduction of the England Three Lions song talking of 30 years of hurt.

It's never easy for England. Even when the path to the Euro 2020 semifinals seemed smooth, even the 2-0 win over arch rival Germany, Southgate was prepared for difficulties against Denmark, especially after losing the 2018 World Cup semifinal to Croatia and being beaten in the 2019 Nations League last four by the Netherlands.

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