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Southgate hails how England rose to ‘incredible occasion’ after reaching momentous Euro 2020 final

Gareth Southgate enthused about his pride in the “resilience” shown by his youthful England squad as they made history by reaching the final of Euro 2020.

England were taken to extra time by Denmark in the semi-final, but Harry Kane scored the rebound of a penalty he had originally missed to send his country through. It is the first time they have reached a major tournament final since winning the World Cup in 1966.

The anticipation is already huge for Sunday’s showpiece against Italy. Southgate will need to manage those emotions but also capitalise on them if England are to finish the job and claim the top prize.

For now, though, he and his players could revel in the celebration of doing something that multiple generations of England fans had never seen.

“I’m so proud of the players,” he told ITV. “It’s an incredible occasion to be a part of.

“We knew it wouldn’t be straight-forward. We said to the players we’ll have to show our resilience and come back from some setbacks, and we’ve done that tonight.”

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While the overriding emotion was positive, there was also sympathy for Denmark, who have battled their way through an extraordinary tournament.

Southgate described the opponents as “underrated” but praised his own youthful squad for living up to the pressure.

“I felt we would get there,” he said. “I knew we would have different sorts of battles because Denmark are so underrated as a team.

“They did cause us a lot of problems. When you’ve waited as long as we have to get through a semi-final, the players, considering the limited international experience some of them have had, they’ve done an incredible job.

“The most pleasing thing is that we’ve given our fans and our nation a fantastic night, and the journey continues on for another four days. To come through that sort of a night – we suffered in Moscow (in the World Cup semi-final) and on a night like this we’ve managed to put things right.”

Southgate awaits last ‘massive hurdle’

Reflecting on Kane seeing his penalty saved and subsequent scoring, Southgate was thankful that the miss had become insignificant.

“There’s nobody you’ve rather have on it, but you’re up against a great goalkeeper who he’s obviously faced a lot of times,” he said. “But thankfully that’s now immaterial.”

The party cannot last too much longer, though, as no trophy has been won yet. Thus, Southgate is already thinking ahead to Sunday.

“We’re in the final and we’ve got to enjoy that fact. But there’s one more massive hurdle to try and conquer.”

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