John Stones: Jude Bellingham goal could be catalyst for England at Euro 2024

John Stones believes Jude Bellingham’s great escape act can be the “turning point” in England’s attempt to “create history” by winning Euro 2024.

Gareth Southgate’s men arrived at this summer’s tournament among the favourites to lift the trophy, but last weekend they were seconds away from bowing out in the first knockout round.

Slovakia led against lacklustre England deep into stoppage time, only for Bellingham’s jaw-dropping overhead kick to save their blushes in the fifth added minute.

Harry Kane went on to secure England a 2-1 extra-time triumph – a last-gasp win that breathes new life into a side that now take on Switzerland in Saturday’s quarter-final in Dusseldorf.

Asked if the great escape made the team feel like anything is possible, Stones said: “Yeah, 100 per cent.

“I think it is a turning point as well for us, emotionally to do it in such a high-pressure moment part of the game, last few minutes.

“I believe it’s going to change a lot of things for us as a team going through those emotions we had.

“There’s a great picture of us celebrating that goal and all the bench are off, all of the staff in the stands are up off their seats. It just shows that unity, that togetherness as a team.

“When you’ve done these things you believe then even more that you can do better and when it gets tough you can always recap to these moments and know that we can do it again.”

Bellingham’s goal could well prove the catalyst for the Euro 2020 runners-up, who play their 100th match under manager Southgate this weekend.

They have yet to get near the standards they have played at in their three previous major tournaments under the former defender, with Stones wanting to both entertain and win.

“I’ve said it for the past few games now that we needed to keep progressing and try and play our fluid football that we’re used to,” he said.

“But I don’t want to discredit the other night either. I thought we were going home after 60 minutes of the game, and to change the mindset of us all and keep that belief and faith it’s got a lot of power behind that, I think, for ourselves, other teams.

“Everyone watching at home knows that we’re there to do it right until the last minute. Literally.

John Stones hugs Marc Guehi and Jude Bellingham embraces Jordan Pickford
John Stones, left, wants England to kick on (Bradley Collyer/PA)

“And I think we should take great confidence from that – that’s something that’s not easy to do, especially in a high pressure game.

“Understandably, the fans weren’t happy with the performance. We recognise that, and I think we use that as fuel to try and go that extra mile and make it count.”

A third major tournament semi-final under Southgate is now tantalisingly close for a group driven by a desire to become England’s first kings of the continent.

“The biggest thrill for me that I can get out of playing is that winning feeling, to create history for us as a nation, for everyone back home,” said Stones, who downplayed issues over strapping on his right knee.

England's players embrace Jude Bellingham after his goal against Slovakia
Stones believes England’s togetherness is vital (Adam Davy/PA)

“For me personally and the lads to do something that has never been done before and win this trophy.

“I kind of simplify it down into all those little things that I’ve just said and trying to create our own history and make something happen.

“That comes with all the trophies that I’ve won previously in my career and trying to bring those attributes to the team, that hunger, the things that you can’t really coach or learn.

“It’s almost you’re just born with what that comes around winning a football game or going that extra yard to try and make this happen. That’s the dream, that’s the belief that I definitely have.”