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EURO 2020

Rio Ferdinand explains why England are succeeding where ‘golden generation’ failed

Former England star Rio Ferdinand believes the “togetherness” of Gareth Southgate’s squad has led to their success at Euro 2020.

The Three Lions will play Denmark on Wednesday in the semi-finals, only the second time the Three Lions have reached the last four of the tournament.

The first time was in Euro ’96 where the team infamously crashed out after losing a penalty shoot-out against Germany following Southgate’s missed attempt.

Southgate, now manager, has built a good culture in the group and it’s something the ‘golden generation’ of England players didn’t have, according to Ferdinand.

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He told the BBC: “The togetherness, it all comes from Croatia in 2018, that’s not something that’s happened overnight. Since that, he’s seen what went wrong and they’ve worked on it.

Rio Ferdinand is impressed with England at Euro 2020
Rio Ferdinand is impressed with England at Euro 2020

“They can change formations, they can bring in different players at any time, nothing changes. [Jadon] Sancho is a great example. He came in after not playing the first four games.

“Look back at other teams, my teams for example, they’d have been sulking around the camp, speaking to their agents at home, when they get the excuse they’d be looking for excuses saying ‘I’m not fit enough’.

“These guys are professionals. They know what their job is and they go out and do it to a t.

“I think our squad at the time had more world-class players. This team has a better squad, a much better squad. Players come in and change the game, there’s no drop off in the quality of players at all.”

England supporters will be hoping the close-knit nature of the team continues their good form in their semi against Denmark.

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And Southgate has said he hopes his team can create history.

He said after England’s 4-0 quarter-final win over Ukraine: “We’ve had to suffer a bit to get to where we are.

“We’ve had difficult nights, some tough performances, but we’re now playing with a lot of belief and I think the players can see what’s possible. We still have a long way to go and we’re not satisfied.

“Saturday was another enjoyable night for everybody but I’ve got to say before the end of the game I was already thinking about the next challenge and that’s the one for us. We’ve never been to a European Championship final so it’s another opportunity to make history.

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“It’s not so much pressure for this team, it’s another challenge that they have the chance to take on. At the moment they’re rising to those challenges.”

However, Denmark are confident they can spoil England’s party and their keeper Kasper Schmeichel made a slight dig about the song ‘It’s Coming Home’.

He said: “Has it ever been home? I don’t know, have you ever won it?

“To be honest, I haven’t given any thought to what it would mean to stop England more than what it would do for Denmark.

“To be honest, I’ve focused very little on the England national team. It doesn’t really mean anything to me.

“It’s what it would do for our country back home. The joy it would bring to a country of only five-and-a-half million to be able to do something like that, or compete with the nations we’re competing with.

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“So, yeah, not really a lot of thought to England’s feelings in this.”

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