Tuesday, July 16, 2024
HomeInternationalEngland hero reflects on non-league rise to Euros final

England hero reflects on non-league rise to Euros final

Ollie Watkins admits he ‘never thought’ he’d be playing for England at a major tournament after scoring a Euro 2024 semi-final winner against the Netherlands.

Watkins came off the bench to score a 90th-minute winner for England against the Netherlands in Dortmund, booking the Three Lions a place in the Euro 2024 final against Spain.

The 28-year-old has had an incredible rise and just nine years ago was representing non-league Weston-super-Mare, on loan from Exeter City, but will now form part of an England side looking to end a 58-year wait for a major trophy this weekend.

 

Watkins admits he couldn’t even dream of such a moment in his early career, and said his last-gasp winner against the Netherlands was surreal after a frustrating tournament to date.

“I never thought I’d be playing in the Euros for England. You can dream but I am a realist, I just take by day and one step at a time. I was just focused on getting back into the first team at Exeter,” Watkins said in his post-match press conference.

“I have put a lot of work to get to this point, not just this season. I will enjoy every moment.

“Recently I have obviously got a bit frustrated. I don’t like to be on the bench, I have had the best season of my career. A few friends messaged me and said be patient and the amount of people who messaged me tonight saying I would score when I come on was ridiculous. Hopefully they can do the same for the final or give me the lottery numbers.

“Lost for words really,” he continued. “When you score there are emotions that come through your body but this is just a different feeling. It was in slow motion when I ran to celebrate with the boys.

“I didn’t want to get off the pitch at the end, I wanted to soak it all in as it doesn’t happen often.”

On his winning goal, Watkins added: “The ball came into me, hold up is not the strongest side of my game but the goal was my bread and butter. I said to Cole Palmer we were both going to go on the pitch and he would set me up and it happened.

“You don’t get that opportunity very often and I had to be greedy and take the shot. I don’t think I have hit the ball so sweet like that before.

 

“I didn’t dream about that to be honest. I can’t lie and say I did, scoring for England is amazing but I didn’t think I’d do it in a tournament like that.

“When I was on the bench I said to Dean Henderson I can make a difference today and need to get on. I took my chance, scored it and now are in the final. One last game.”

Read – England match-winner Watkins hails ‘the best feeling ever’

See more – Kane says England have ‘one more game to make history’ after reaching Euro 2024 final

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