England train ahead of Italy Euro final
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Former England defender Paul Parker has implored Gareth Southgate’s current crop to grab Sunday evening’s Euro 2020 final by the scruff of its neck in order to write their own chapter of footballing history. The Three Lions will walk out onto the hallowed turf at Wembley with high hopes of winning a first major tournament since 1966, but will face the toughest of challenges in downing a red-hot Italy side with a burning desire to prevent football from coming home at all costs.
Roberto Mancini’s men are currently enjoying a 33-match unbeaten run that stretches all the way back to 2018, and they will be determined to keep their record intact by clinching the Euros at England’s expense on Sunday.
However, the hosts are yet to concede from open play at the tournament, with the Azzurri hoping to avoid the prospect of being frustrated at the top of the pitch in front of a 65,000-strong crowd at the national stadium.
All but one of England’s previous major tournament campaigns have ended in disaster after the heartbreak of falling short, a feeling that Parker knows all too well from his experience of tasting defeat in the last four of the World Cup in 1990.
Looking ahead to Sunday’s final, the 57-year-old exclusively told Express Sport that Southgate’s side have every chance of bucking the trend this time around, declaring that anything can happen in football and urging the players to grab this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with both hands.
“I believe that the Euros are harder to win, generally, than a World Cup,” said Parker.
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“Most of the strongest teams in the world are from Europe. A lot of the best players in the world play in Europe. So it is a tougher competition to win.
“I think this year we have to talk about what’s happened previously to say that this one has had a few shocks, football’s predictability has had a massive movement.
“So the next Euros will be tougher than this one. If you’re going to win something, you go and win it now.
“When you have a ‘group of death’ and all of them die in the group of death, that tells you there’s something different about football at this moment in time. You’ve got to go and grab it.
“I’ve said all season in the Premier League that when teams are in certain areas and they don’t know what’s going on, they’ve got to go and grab it. West Ham went and grabbed Europe.
“There were teams that had opportunities to go and make a statement and get into the Champions League. In the end the main teams broke through.
“Liverpool were allowed, after what was deemed a poor season, to get themselves into the Champions League. In normal times they wouldn’t have come back from it.
“So you’ve got to go and grab it while it’s there and be the first to win a European Championship for England. Never done it before, only one World Cup and you want to be a part of it.”
Parker was speaking to Express Sport on behalf of Outlaw Pro, who are launching a six-part mini-series called Angling Outlaws in which Parker will join fellow ex-footballers in being trained by multi-world champion anglers on BT Sport next year.
“We’ve got different professional fishermen with all different styles of fishing, taking us and showing us different ways,” he explained.
“I just want to be with a person who’s happy to put a maggot on the hook and when I catch a fish they will hold it for me!”
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