England beaten on penalties by Italy in Euro 2020 final – as it happened

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  • England's bid for a first major men's trophy since 1966 ends in penalty heartbreak

  • Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka all miss in the shootout

  • Luke Shaw gave England sensational start with second-minute goal but Italy hit back through Leonardo Bonucci

  • Final kicked off on time despite pre-match disturbances, with Met and Wembley saying some fans entered without tickets

2329 England boss Southgate has taken took full responsibility for his side’s latest penalty failure.

“We prepared as well as we could for that and that’s my responsibility, I chose the guys to take the kicks,” he told ITV.

“No-one is on their own in that situation. We decided to make the changes right at the end of the game and we win and lose together as team.”

2325

Italy captain Giorgio Chiellini lifts trophy
Italy captain Giorgio Chiellini lifts trophy (Mike Egerton/PA)

2319 Should Saka have taken the crucial fifth penalty?

Former England Women forward Eni Aluko has said it was “too much” for someone of his age, but former England and Arsenal striker Ian Wright told ITV: “He is more than capable of taking that penalty. He is brave enough to take it. I am devastated for him.”

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2315 Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has sounded an optimistic note about the national team’s future.

He said: “Tonight’s result is a disappointment but huge congratulations to England for performances that filled the nation with pride.

“Praise must go to the players, and to Gareth Southgate and his coaching team and everybody at the FA, for a great Euro 2020 tournament. Gareth is a fantastic leader and instilled the players with belief, to go alongside their undoubted ability.

“Irrespective of tonight’s result, I am excited for the future – to see not only what this squad can go on to achieve, but also for the millions of people their success will inspire to play, support and get involved with our sport.”

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2310 Alan Shearer has questioned the timing of Southgate’s subs, with neither Rashford or Sancho getting much time on the pitch before it went to penalties.

Shearer said on the BBC: “It’s a big ask to put players on with a minute to go and say ‘go and take a penalty’ when they’ve had no feel of the ball. You’re put in a position.”

But Rio Ferdinand argued: “That’s happened for years, the last five, four, three minutes, players go on as takers. Marcus Rashford is a recognised taker. It happens. We look down the years, the biggest and best players miss penalties. Big players of the past… Baggio… they’ve missed penalties.”

Marcus Rashford after his missed spot-kick
Marcus Rashford after his missed spot-kick (Mike Egerton/PA)

2308 Gary Neville has told ITV: “The lads fell a little bit short but they should be so proud. Every single one of them has been outstanding through this tournament.

“We’ll have to look after the young lads (who missed penalties). They will need a cuddle. The whole nation is going to need cuddling.

“It was a massive struggle but it was always going to be a massive struggle. It was 50-50. Gareth has planned for penalties. He brought his subs on ready to go.”

Bukayo Saka after his missed penalty
Bukayo Saka after his missed penalty (Mike Egerton/PA)

2306 Former England midfielder Frank Lampard believes the better team won.

He said on the BBC: “In respect to Italy, they controlled the elements of the game after 20 minutes and you have to give them credit. We wanted our team to get over the line, but I do think Italy were the better team.”

2303 Rio Ferdinand has praised the England squad for giving the country some joy during the tournament.

Speaking on the BBC, the former England defender said: “Huge disappointment, but the fans clapping our players, they brought us great joy that my generation and below have not felt. They lifted this country when we needed it after a pandemic and take credit for that.

“It’s harsh, painful. I was supremely confident, but they are wily old foxes in that (Italy) team. When it got to penalties, it’s a toss of a coin.”

Italy players celebrate winning the penalty shootout
Italy players celebrate winning the penalty shootout (Nick Potts/PA)


2256 There would be no glory for England, though, with Italy winning 3-2 on penalties as Rashford, Sancho and Saka all missed in the shootout.

2240 Perhaps inevitably, the game went to penalties.

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2237 As the end of extra-time approached, with no chances but plenty of tension, Jorginho was perhaps unlucky to escape a red card for a late challenge on Grealish while, with penalties in mind, Henderson and Walker were replaced by Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho.

2220 Half-time of extra-time soon arrived, with the sides still locked together.

2209 England started extra-time with renewed energy and Sterling broke into the box, but his cross was cut out and from the resulting corner Kalvin Phillips volleyed wide. Fan favourite Jack Grealish was then brought on to replace Mount.

Italy’s Ciro Immobile (left) and England’s Kalvin Phillips (right)
Italy’s Ciro Immobile (left) and England’s Kalvin Phillips (right) (Mike Egerton/PA)

2158 Normal time dwindled away with extra-time feeling almost inevitable, and so it proved as six minutes of added time passed without incident.

2148 There was a blow for Italy five minutes from time as the dangerous Chiesa hobbled off with an injury.

2138 With Italy now looking by far the better team, England made two changes, with Trippier replaced by Saka and Jordan Henderson coming on for Rice.

2129 Italy’s deserved leveller came midway through the second half as Bonucci struck from close range following a corner. Marco Verratti snuck in at the far post and his header was tipped on to the post by Pickford, but Bonucci tapped home the rebound.

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2124 Italy kept knocking on the door and Pickford was forced into his most testing save of the night. The Everton goalkeeper did brilliantly to get down low and keep out Chiesa’s shot.

2115 Moments later Italy had a great chance at the other end as they won a free-kick in an inviting position, 20 yards out in a central position. However Insigne was well wide with his effort and England breathed again.

2111 England had a shout for a penalty three minutes after the restart as Raheem Sterling went down after trying to go past Bonucci but referee Bjorn Kuipers waved away protests.

2106 Speaking on ITV at half-time, former England defender Gary Neville said: “We raised our eyebrows a little bit this afternoon when we saw the team and the system come through but Gareth Southgate has proved to be absolutely spot on again. Chiellini and Bonucci have just been pulled around in that first half apart from the last 10 minutes.”

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2050 England’s goal came under threat in first-half stoppage time as Italy fired two shots on goal in quick succession. First Ciro Immobile had an effort well blocked by John Stones and then Marco Verratti’s shot was easy for Pickford to save, before the half-time whistle blew.

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2023 England continued to dominate at the 20-minute mark as they found space down both flanks. However, they lacked the quality in the final pass to allow them to create chances for further goals.

2019 Regarding the reports of stadium breaches, The Metropolitan Police said the force has been working with Wembley’s security staff to prevent further incidents at the stadium.

“Earlier this afternoon there was a breach of security at Wembley Stadium, which resulted in a small number of people getting into the stadium without a ticket. Officers worked closely with security officials to prevent any further breaches.

“We will also support action by Wembley Stadium officials to identify those without tickets and eject them.”

2007 England survived a scare in the seventh minute as Lorenzo Insigne sent a curling free-kick from 25 yards over the crossbar.

2002 England made a dream start and went ahead after only two minutes. Harry Kane spread the play out to Kieran Trippier and the wing-back’s cross was rammed home at the far post by Luke Shaw as Wembley went wild.

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2000 Despite the disturbances around the stadium, the final kicked off as scheduled.

1919 On the ugly incident where fans appeared to try to force their way into Wembley Stadium, the Metropolitan Police tweeted: “We supported the security teams at Wembley Stadium a short time ago with this incident. Wembley security officials have confirmed there was no security breaches of people without tickets getting inside the stadium.”

1909 Southgate insisted his tactical change was more of an attacking move than a defensive one. “Italy cause you a tactical problem, they have a familiar way of playing and it is a problem which is difficult to resolve with a winger because he ends up defending in our own third of the pitch,” he told ITV.

“We want to keep our attacking players higher up the pitch, which we hope will cause them a problem higher up.”

Kieran Trippier (c) was given the nod
Kieran Trippier (c) was given the nod (Mike Egerton/PA)

1858 Trippier was determined to repay the faith the manager had shown in changing the formation to include him. “It worked against Germany and I just want to give the balance and try to create as much as we can,” he told ITV.

1841 England’s team showed the one change reported throughout the day, with Kieran Trippier called up in place of Bukayo Saka.

Southgate changed formation to a 3-4-3, with Kyle Walker moving into a three-man defence and Trippier playing right wing-back.

Manchester City forward Phil Foden was not fit enough to make the bench for the Three Lions after he picked up a knock against Denmark.

Italy named the same starting XI as the one that beat Spain in the semi-final after extra-time. Defender Leonardo Bonucci will play his 18th match at the European Championship, a record for his country as he overtakes Gianluigi Buffon.

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1831 Not everything was jovial, however, with Wembley having to release a statement relating to an issue at the stadium’s perimeter: “We are dealing with an incident that occurred at the outer security perimeter area of the stadium, with support from police. Safety measures were quickly activated in the relevant areas and there were no security breaches of people without tickets getting inside the stadium,” the statement read.

1829 England’s players were in good spirits as they arrived at Wembley around 6.20pm. Gareth Southgate’s squad then took in their surroundings with an amble on the turf, which received a partisan welcome from the fans already in the stadium.

1803 England’s players are making the journey from their Grove Hotel to Wembley Stadium.

England's players file onto the coach
England’s players file onto the coach (Jonathan Brady/PA)

1800 How the teams compare ahead of the final.

Italy v England head to head
Italy v England head to head (PA graphic)

1755 Gary Lineker was enjoying the ‘Countdown’ to kick-off.

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1750 From London to York, and Three Lions to Sweet Caroline, fans are ready for the big match.

1740 Amid reports that Southgate was set to revert to a three-man defence for the final, with Kieran Trippier recalled, former England manager Steve McClaren said on Sky Sports News: “Brave call by Gareth. Only did it once in the tournament, against Germany, and that was a massive call. It worked, it needs to work again.

“I think, why has he done that – Gareth is very pragmatic. I’ve been saying all along, it’s about ‘how do we win this game over 95 minutes, extra-time, penalties?’, and he knows he has to stay in the game, keep it tight. Clean sheets win you games.”

1735 Bring out the inflatable unicorns!

England fans outside the ground
England fans outside the ground (Zac Goodwin/PA)

1720 David Seaman, England’s goalkeeper when they reached the Euro 96 semi-finals, spoke of the current team’s opportunity to become “absolute icons”.

Seaman said on Sky Sports News: “People have been asking me how do you think the players will feel, and I’ve said I have no idea – I’ve never been to a final with England. This is a really special occasion.

“It’s time, it’s their time. They’ve created history by getting to the final, now they can just go one step further and become absolute icons. If they win this match tonight, they’ll be heroes, no doubt.

“Can you imagine the confidence that they’ll get if they win tonight, going into the World Cup? They might even do a France – European and World Cup (champions). Sounds nice, doesn’t it?”

1715 Forest Green defender Udoka Godwin-Malife can hold a tune.

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1705 The scene was set at Wembley.

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1645 English football’s anthem got its obligatory outing…

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… while another Britpop favourite showed their support.

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1630 Mercedes stoked the Anglo-Italian rivalry in the Formula One paddock.

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1615 Italy were ‘United by Blue’…

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…and shared a glimpse inside Wembley ahead of kick-off.

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1555 Don’t worry England fans, this is isn’t really Gareth Southgate, Jack Grealish and Phil Foden…

An England fan dressed as Gareth Southgate pours beer over his own head
An England fan dressed as Gareth Southgate pours beer over his own head (Mike Egerton/PA)

1550 Former Italy international Marco Tardelli – best remembered for his World Cup final goal and ecstatic celebration 39 years ago to the day – toasted another “screaming Sunday” while watching Matteo Berrettini’s Wimbledon final and awaiting kick-off for the Azzurri.

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1540 Rio Ferdinand led the chants at Boxpark Wembley.

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1530 England’s cricketers are getting into the occasion by copying Phil Foden’s bleach-blond hairstyle, which was inspired by Paul Gascoigne at Euro 96.

Screenshot of Liam Livingstone's new hairstyle from his Instagram story
Liam Livingstone and England’s cricketers followed Phil Foden’s style lead (Liam Livingstone/Instagram story)

All-rounder Liam Livingstone posted a picture of his effort to his Instagram story, tagging team-mates Sam Curran, Jason Roy and Ben Stokes – with the latter apparently planning to join in.

Opening batsman Phil Salt, who has also gone blond, said: “If England win tonight I know a few of the lads planning to do it, the Phil Foden.”

Asked if Stokes is among them, he replied: “From what I’ve heard, yeah.”

1520 The boy from Brent was preparing to fulfil a lifelong dream.

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1515 Not everybody was in high spirits ahead of the game.

England fans looking for tickets outside the ground
England fans looking for tickets outside the ground (Zac Goodwin/PA)

1510 The England captain took time out in the build-up to send a message to a fellow Harry – a two-year-old boy suffering from a brain tumour.

Kane said in the video posted on Saturday: “I just wanted to wish you all the best, not just from me, from all the England team. Hopefully we can put a smile on your face tomorrow night.”

1500 Lionesses defender Lucy Bronze showed her colours.

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1455 England prepared to make the short journey from their Hertfordshire hotel.

England's team bus waits to depart for Wembley
England’s team bus waits to depart for Wembley (Jonathan Brady/PA)

1450 The Italy captain is no stranger to a special occasion under the arch.

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1445 Support continued to come from domestic clubs.

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1435 Just a reminder that kick-off is not until 8pm.

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1415 The final party is bouncing with less than six hours remaining before the big kick-off.

England fans on Wembley Way
England fans on Wembley Way (Nick Potts/PA)
England fans on top of a bus before the big match
England fans on top of a bus before the big match (Zac Goodwin/PA)
England supporters with a fellow fan dressed as Gareth Southgate
England supporters with a fellow fan dressed as Gareth Southgate (Mike Egerton/PA)
England fans party before the match
The party is in full swing (Mike Egerton/PA)

1410 UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin and general secretary Theodoros Theodoridis will be joined at the final by FIFA president Gianni Infantino and representatives of the English and Italian Football Associations, according to a guest list released by the European governing body.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be there with their son Prince George – the Duchess making a dash across from Wimbledon, where she watched the men’s wheelchair singles final – while political guests include Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Italy’s president Sergio Mattarella and undersecretary of state for sport Valentina Vezzali.

The Duchess of Cambridge, left, watches the Wimbledon men's wheelchair singles final
The Duchess of Cambridge is spending the day at Wimbledon before travelling to Wembley for the final (John Walton/PA)

Sir Geoff Hurst, David Beckham and Wayne Rooney will be among the ex-England players in attendance, along with Italy’s Alessandro Nesta and Gianluca Zambrotta – and Fabio Capello, the Italian who managed England from 2007 to 2012.

Hollywood star Tom Cruise and model Kate Moss were revealed to be among the celebrity guests.

1400 Ellis Genge and England’s rugby team were getting into the mood, with a nod to comedian Peter Kay.

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1345 Wembley was looking a picture for the big occasion.

An artist paints a picture of Wembley Stadium ahead of the Euro 2020 final
An artist paints a picture of Wembley Stadium ahead of the Euro 2020 final (Zac Goodwin/PA)
An artist paints a picture of Wembley Stadium ahead of the Euro 2020 final
A close-up look at the work of art (Zac Goodwin/PA)

1340 A re-recorded version of Atomic Kitten’s 2001 hit Whole Again dedicated to England boss Southgate has been surging up the charts in the build-up to the final.

“It’s all very surreal to think that a song that was released over 20 years ago is now one of the main chants for the England fans, but when you hear it it just gives me goosebumps,” lead singer Natasha Hamilton told Sky Sports News.

“It’s been a crazy week but I’m so happy that Atomic Kitten have become a part of football history.

On the new version of the song, Hamilton added: “We literally re-recorded the vocals on Monday, released it on Tuesday, by Wednesday it was in the top five of the charts. So it has been a whirlwind.

“If this song became number one it would just be the icing on the cake of the most incredible week.”

1335 Fans of both teams were in good spirits around Wembley.

England fans climb aboard a bus outside Wembley
England fans climb aboard a bus outside Wembley (Zac Goodwin/PA)
An England climbs onto the roof of a car
An England climbs onto the roof of a car (Zac Goodwin/PA)
An Italy fan outside the ground
An Italy fan outside the ground (Zac Goodwin/PA)
A dog in an Italy shirt outside of Wembley stadium
A dog in an Italy shirt outside of the stadium (Mike Egerton/PA)

1330 England settled their nerves with a team walkabout.

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1325 A look ahead to the game with the key statistics and thoughts of both managers.

1315 The England manager’s first professional club celebrated his achievements.

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1310 A big day of sport in London, with Italian representation across the board.

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1300 Premier League and EFL clubs showed their support for England.

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1250 Former England defender turned pundit Rio Ferdinand was on his way.

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1245 Gareth Southgate sent a message to fans on the Lions Den programme broadcast on England’s Twitter feed.

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The England manager said: “I just wanted to take the time to say thank you to everybody for the incredible support you’ve given us throughout the tournament. I hope we’ve represented you in the right way, I hope you’ve enjoyed watching us play.

“I’m grateful, with the staff here, to get to our first final in 55 years but now we know we’ve got to deliver for you. Your support and energy has given us a huge lift and I know it will on Sunday.”

1240 The pre-match festivities are getting into full swing as England and Italy fans gather outside Wembley.

A young England fan outside the ground
A young England fan outside the ground (Zac Goodwin/PA)
England fans outside Wembley
England fans outside Wembley (Zac Goodwin/PA)
England fans outside Wembley
Time for a breather before the party begins in earnest (Zac Goodwin/PA)
An Italy fan outside Wembley
The Italians are outside Wembley too (Zac Goodwin/PA)

1235 England midfielder Jack Grealish told the Lions Den programme the team are in relaxed mood ahead of the game.

“It’s actually quite chilled here, probably not a lot of peoppe would expect that. We’re all just focused on the game – it’s probably the best way to be, chilled and focused.

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“It’s the biggest game in I don’t know how long, one we’re looking forward to. I don’t really get nervous, I’ll just do what I do on any normal day.”

Regarding the atmosphere after the semi-final win over Denmark, he added: “We’ve been belting out a few Ed Sheeran songs – ‘Thinking Out Loud’, my favourite. We enjoy it in the changing room for a little bit after but there comes a point where you need to say ‘that’s done’ and focus on the next one.”

1225 Will Italy produce a masterpiece at Wembley to dash English hopes?

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1220 Emile Heskey, who played for England at Euro 2004 and at two World Cups, insists “the pressure’s off” for England.

Heskey told Sky Sports News: “The major part of the pressure was getting to this point, getting out of the group stage. After the Scotland game (a goalless draw) there was a lot of pressure there because it wasn’t the result the nation wanted.

“But to get to where they are now I think the pressure’s off – they’ve just got to go out there and express themselves.”

1200 Jesse Lingard was one of the final players to miss the cut for England’s tournament squad after starring on loan from Manchester United to West Ham.

The playmaker told the Lions Den show on England’s Twitter feed: “I spoke to Marcus (Rashford) a little bit, spoke to Dec (Rice) a little bit, and they’re just confident – they’re thriving on the challenge and everyone’s ready to go.”

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Lingard added: “100 per cent it’s coming home.”

1135 Former England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson thinks England are above reproach even if they lose the final.

“I think England – whatever happens tonight, I think they will win – have done a great, great tournament,” he told Sky Sports News. “They have played very good football in most of the games, very solid and defending very well, and they have a lot of young players for the future.

“I think they will win but I don’t think they will be criticised negatively whatever happens. Of course they have a lot to lose but they should go out and enjoy the match, doing what they normally do.”

Eriksson believes the best two sides at the tournament have justifiably reached the final, adding: “No doubt about that – yes. Italy have in many games played very good football, attacking football, with a lot of good players.

“They are the two best teams in the tournament so it’s fair as it is.”

Sven Goran Eriksson watches his England team in action during the 2006 World Cup
Sven Goran Eriksson watches his England team in action during the 2006 World Cup (Martin Rickett/PA)

On Southgate’s transformation of England’s fortunes since their shock early exit at the hands of Iceland at Euro 2016, Eriksson added: “He has done a great job, that’s for sure, and a lot of good young English footballers have come through. He has given them the chance which is great… he has let them play as well.

“Southgate has been great for England and to see them in the final of the Euros is fantastic.”

Young Manchester City star Phil Foden is an injury doubt for tonight after missing training on Saturday but Eriksson feels England have an abundance of suitable alternatives, highlighting Jack Grealish as a “great player”.

The Swede added: “You have so many options: you have Sancho, Grealish and Rashford. It’s just about choosing who is in the right shape and Southgate is very, very lucky as he has a lot of good footballers who are young and hungry, with pace and technique, on the bench.

“(Grealish) can make the difference. He’s a great player and I like him very, very much. In one-on-ones he can open up the Italy defence for sure, so he can be the man.

“I think that England have a better bench than Italy. The teams are both very good but England’s bench is much better.”

1125 Fans up and down the country are showing their support, with local residents carrying a giant England “Respect” flag from Raheem Sterling’s old home on Neeld Crescent in Brent to nearby Wembley.

Local residents carry an official giant England Nationwide Respect campaign flag from Neeld Crescent in Brent, where Raheem Sterling grew up, to Wembley Stadium
Local residents carry an official giant England Nationwide Respect campaign flag from Neeld Crescent in Brent, where Raheem Sterling grew up, to Wembley Stadium (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Sterling also featured, alongside captain Harry Kane and manager Gareth Southgate, in a mural in Nuneaton by artist Nathan Parker.

Fans by a new mural in Nuneaton by artist Nathan Parker, depicting Gareth Southgate, Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling
Fans by a new mural in Nuneaton by artist Nathan Parker, depicting Gareth Southgate, Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling (Jacob King/PA)

Parker’s “Three Lions on the Wall” exhibit also urged fans to donate to fund a defibrillator, in response to Denmark playmaker Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest in their opening game against Finland.

1115 From Sunderland to Merseyside and England – the two Jordans have the backing of their old club.

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1110 The England Women team were fully behind their male counterparts.

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And there was also support from the national summer sport.

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1100 Football Association chief executive Mark Bullingham, appearing on The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One, said of the England squad: “I think they are a fantastic group of people who we are very proud of. What they have done on the pitch has been fantastic but I think it goes beyond that.

“I think there are some individuals who have driven social change and who have been incredibly supportive of charities and, as I said, we are proud to have them as our team.”

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Bullingham urged England fans not to boo the Italy national anthem and also clarified the position of the FA and the team on taking a knee.

“We’ve been really clear, we do not support the booing of national anthems. We want them to really get behind the team in the right way,” Bullingham said.

“We have also been very clear on what taking the knee stands for. It is an act of equality, not a political gesture, and quite frankly anyone who tries to position it in that way is wrong.”

1045 England will be competing for the attention of one of PA’s reporters on duty.

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1040 Former England defender Jamie Carragher believes Gareth Southgate should stick with the team who saw off Denmark in the semi-finals.

“I think it is (time to stick),” he told Sky Sports News. “I’d have actually stuck with the team that played against Ukraine. I was surprised when Saka came in.

“I can’t say I’ll be hugely surprised if he changes again because he’s done it so often and it keeps the opposition guessing, but I think Saka’s done really well in the last game and you need that pace and that energy around Harry Kane to make runs in behind the Italian defence.”

Do you agree with Carragher? England want you to have your say.

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1030 England will be back in their white shorts for the big game.

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1020 Former England striker turned BBC presenter Gary Lineker is ready to “go absolutely bonkers” if England join Leicester in helping him achieve his twin broadcasting ambitions.

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Lineker paid tribute to the work done in the community by the likes of Marcus Rashford, Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling – while his memories of watching major tournaments as a child featured a surprising appearance from Engelbert Humperdinck.

1005 The Duke of Cambridge, who is also president of the Football Association, sent his best wishes to the team with a video posted on Twitter.

“Gareth, Harry and to every member of the England team on and off the pitch, just want to wish you the very best of luck for tonight,” he said.

“What a team performance it’s been, every member of the squad has played their part and all the backroom team as well have been truly essential.

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“Can’t really believe this is happening, so exciting, and just wish you the very best of luck.

“You bring out the very best of England and we are all behind you, the whole country is behind you, so bring it home.”

1000: Good morning! Tonight, at 8pm, England face Italy at Wembley.

At stake is the European Championship trophy, potentially England’s first and only a second major honour since Bobby Moore and his team-mates won the World Cup in 1966.

The Queen has wished the Three Lions well, while Prime Minister Boris Johnson also penned a personal note to Gareth Southgate and his squad, who were FaceTimed by Hollywood A-lister Tom Cruise on Saturday.

England’s calm and composed manager Southgate remains determined to stay focused on the job in hand while the country has allowed itself to dream of football finally coming home.

Today the PA news agency will chart the build-up to the historic clash, bringing the best opinions, pictures, video, graphics and social media together as we count down to kick-off.

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Former England right-back Gary Neville, who along with Southgate experienced semi-final heartbreak as a player at Euro 96, stressed that today was “not a day to be nervous”.

Discussing how the players would be feeling on Sunday morning compared to his own experiences with the national team, Neville told Sky Sports News: “If you think about 1996 and Gareth’s abuse he received after missing that penalty, (David) Beckham in ’98 and then my brother (Phil Neville) in 2000, it was a very pressurised situation with England because you weren’t performing at a level and there was a different way in which they approached it from a media point as well.

“These lads haven’t got that cynicism, they haven’t got that pain and dismay embedded within themselves, so I suspect that now they must be feeling on top of the world this morning, excited.

Gary Neville earned 85 England caps
Gary Neville earned 85 England caps (Owen Humphreys/PA)

“I know there are a lot of fans nervous up and down the country but this isn’t a day to be nervous. I don’t feel nervous at all. It’s a moment and a day that this country’s been waiting for such a long time. I think the pressure moment was actually against Scotland or against Germany in the second round.

“We’ve gone past those things with this team, so this team have proven they can jump hurdles that none have done before in the last 55 years, and I suspect that they’ll be feeling really comfortable.”

Former England boss Terry Venables, who led the Three Lions to the last four of the Euros 25 years ago, has written an open letter to Southgate in The Sun.

Venables said: “I will be with you in spirit on that touchline. I knew exactly how, and what you were feeling as those incredible days which brought the country together back in ’96 came flooding back to me, feelings which cannot be fully appreciated unless you are standing on that spot.

“As you know, sport teaches us so many lessons about life and the saying, ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ is so true.

Gareth Southgate shares a joke with Terry Venables
Terry Venables has wished his former player Gareth Southgate well in tonight’s final (Michael Stephens/PA)

“Having watched all of the games, I have to say that your team are a credit to you as mine were to me, and I know that to achieve a connection like that is a luxury many managers could never accomplish.

“Enjoy every moment of your day on Sunday, knowing that our wonderful country are all behind you and your team cheering you on, willing you the success which you all deserve.”

Italy watch

Italians are confident their national side will win their second European Championship, a title they first claimed in 1968.

The front cover of today’s Gazzetta dello Sport instructs the Azzurri to ‘make them blue’. The Corriere dello Sport talks of ‘a love so big’ for Roberto Mancini’s men.

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Where can I watch the final?

BBC One – build-up from 1820
ITV – build-up from 1830

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