Gareth Southgate has insisted that his young England side are excited ahead of their semi-final clash with Denmark, as he looks to start to create history at the new Wembley stadium.
The Three Lions have secured a place in a second successive major tournament semi-final having reached the same stage at the World Cup in Russia three years ago, Southgate’s men eventually defeated in extra-time by Croatia.
With expectation much greater coming into this tournament, England have delivered thus far, seeing off Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany and Ukraine en route to the last four, all while having not conceded a goal.
That slightly more pragmatic approach has not been universally supported, yet Southgate continues to get his side to perform, while he also has the chance to overtake the legendary Sir Alf Ramsey as the England manager to have registered most major tournament wins, the two men currently level on eight victories.
Aside from potentially making his own piece of history with a triumph over a spirited Denmark side on Wednesday evening, Southgate said he is keen for his side to start creating ‘iconic moments’ at the new Wembley stadium, with many of the historic memories coming at the old version of the famous stadium.
“Wembley has a fantastic history but a lot of those memories would be from the old stadium,” Southgate said. “I don’t expect Denmark to come being fearful of Wembley. They’ve got experienced players and they’ll enjoy playing there but we’ve got to make the game one that they don’t enjoy.
“The history of the stadium relies on those iconic moments. There have been less of those headline events at the new Wembley, whereas this tournament is one of those moments where we’ve had the chance to have some very high-profile games already and achieve some big moments.
“There’s some sort of pictures on the wall as you drive into the dressing rooms of iconic England moments but some of them aren’t even from finals. [David] Beckham’s free-kick against Greece was a qualifier. (And was also at Old Trafford)
“Our players over the last two tournaments, they’ve been able to create some really special memories, especially for youngsters. Bless them, they think it’s like this all the time with England.”
Southgate’s men will have been buoyed by the news that the iconic stadium will be able to welcome in 60,000 supporters for the meeting with the Danes, however the former Middlesbrough boss insists his side are ‘excited’ for the game despite the rising expectations on his side.
“I’ve not heard the new Wembley have an atmosphere like it did for the Germany game,” Southgate said. “I’m sure tomorrow is going to be very special. They know that this is a great chance to be the first team to get to a [Euros] final. But they’re excited by it. I don’t think they’re inhibited by it.
“For them it’s just the next of a number of big games. I’m not worried about the occasion, we had that with the opening game [against Croatia] and we dealt with that. We had that with the Germany game and we dealt with that. I’ve got total trust in them.”