Gareth Southgate has told his England players to put on a show to lift the nation’s spirits.
Southgate wants a stylish performance to mark his 50th game as manager but also with the country watching on television as England begin their World Cup campaign.
England boss Southgate said: “I think there’s always that responsibility as a national team.
“We connect a different football audience really, especially the England games that are on terrestrial TV, it’s beyond the hardcore Premier League fans.
“It’s fans from every club in the country and every nan, grandad, uncle, it’s shared moments sitting together. That’s like all of our first memories of England I think. We understand that, particularly when we’ve got exciting players.
“We do try to play good football! We are conscious of that. Over the long haul we’ve tried to come from those times when there were paper aeroplanes on the pitch.
“We’ve got some young and exciting players and while we’ve not always managed to get that right, our intentions have been to try and do that.
“Entertaining is as important as winning and we do feel a responsibility for that.”
Southgate’s men face World Cup minnows San Marino who are officially ranked as the worst team in world football but go into the triple header of qualifiers on the back of a gruelling Premier League fixtures and some club managers insisting they should not be taking place.
But Southgate spoke passionately about international football and why it is important to give fans lifelong memories as they begin the journey to next year’s finals.
Southgate added: “We have to remember, a bit like I said earlier, when we play, not everybody at home is a supporter of a big football club.
“Whenever we travel on the road, you can see that – the flags from the different towns and cities that follow us.
“England is hugely important to people and that gets slightly washed over by the big machine that we’re not competing with but that we’re working alongside.
“We know what those big England nights mean. We know where we were for certain qualifiers.
There will be something in the game tomorrow night that will stick with them – maybe it will be the first time that they’ve watched England or the first time they’ve seen a certain player play.
“They’ll remember that was the day I saw whoever play for England for the first time. We should never lose sight of that romance.”