Harry Kane (L) along with teammates
Harry Kane (L) along with teammates
AFP

London: Wembley hosts a decider which, for the first time in Euro history, will feature England. Since their 1966 FIFA World Cup triumph at the previous Wembley Stadium, England have lost in the semi-finals of five major tournaments: Euro '68 and '96, the 1990 and 2018 World Cups and the 2019 UEFA Nations League. However, they have seen off Germany, Ukraine and, in extra time on Wednesday night, Denmark to earn their chance to end – to paraphrase a popular song – 55 years of hurt.

Gareth Southgate, England manager said, "The reality of any team is that we never get these 26 players together again. It just doesn't work that way. They've left a great legacy, whatever happens, but now, it's about the colour of the medal, and you get very few opportunities in your life to do something like this".

Italy's sole Euro title came as hosts back in 1968. They also lost the finals of 2000 and 2012, although since becoming continental champions they have won two of their four World Cups. The Azzurri beat Spain on penalties on Tuesday and if that, technically, halted their 13-game winning streak (and record of 15 Euro victories in a row, qualifying included), they still remain unbeaten in 33. A remarkable turnaround for a team who, while England reached the 2018 World Cup semis, did not even qualify for Russia. But sitting out a preceding World Cup did not stop Czechoslovakia in 1976, Denmark in 1992 or Greece in 2004 claiming the European title.

"We have been working towards this for many years so we are very happy and I can only thank the players for what they have done so far. We have won nothing yet; we will have to win on Sunday to consider it a success," said Italy coach Roberto Mancini. And went on to add, England will have an entire stadium behind them. It will be on us to put them under pressure. A final is a bit different from other games, we will have to play with focus but also with joy because you can only win a final if you take pitch to have fun."

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