Gareth Southgate: This is an incredible country and I have never been more proud to be English
England vs Italy, Euro 2020 final: What time is kick off on Sunday and how to watch live at Wembley
Uefa has ruled out staging another pan-continental European Championship after admitting the format of the current tournament was “not fair”.
Aleskander Ceferin, the governing body’s president, said he would “not support” a repeat of Euro 2020 amid mounting complaints that it had given England an unfair advantage over other teams.
The Three Lions have ended up in Sunday’s final after playing all but one of their matches at Wembley – albeit that was not originally planned to be the case – while the likes of Wales were forced to travel thousands of miles for games in Baku, Rome and Amsterdam.
Ceferin said previously said he was not a fan Euro 2020’s pan-European concept, which was devised long before he became Uefa president.
And he revealed ahead of the final that his opposition had hardened during the tournament.
“I would not support it anymore,” he told the BBC’s The Sports Desk podcast. “I think it’s too challenging, it’s in a way not correct that some teams have to travel more than 10,000km and others 1,000.
“It’s not fair to fans. Some fans had to be in Rome and next day, or in a couple of days, they had to be in Baku, four-and-a-half hours flight.
“It’s in an interesting idea but hard to implement and I don’t think we will do it again.”
When it was announced at the end of 2012, the tournament’s pan-European concept was billed as a fitting way to mark its 60th anniversary at a time of financial difficulty across the continent.
Wembley was originally chosen to host only the semi-finals and final but was controversially handed another three group games when Brussels dropped out despite Cardiff and Stockholm bidding for the spare matches.
It then got another last-16 fixture – which England ended up playing against Germany – when Dublin was stripped of its matches due to the coronavirus crisis.
Ceferin said the pandemic had made the issues around staging the tournament across 11 countries “even worse” during what had already been “the most challenging year in Uefa’s history”.
He admitted that the 24-team format that saw teams qualifying for the knockout phase after losing two games was bad “in a way” but appeared to rule out a change, saying: “I have never seen a dramatic Euros like this one.”
And he hit out at accusations the event had spread coronavirus after it emerged 2,000 Scotland fans had tested positive for the virus after travelling to their side’s game against England.
“I didn’t see any proof that there is a link,” he said. “Some Scottish fans went to the match. Those were tested. And around 20,000 came to London without tickets.
“And you are not tested when you go to a pub, you are not tested when you go anywhere else and to simplistically just accuse all football, all governments, of spreading the virus is irresponsible in my opinion.”
He added of the tournament: “I will still remember the Euros as one of the most interesting Euros, as the beginning of normality, I hope, in the world, return of fans, great football.”
Wenger, Brailsford and Eddie Jones: The big-name networks feeding ‘rebel ideas’ to Gareth Southgate
Southgate is part of Leaders P8, a knowledge platform for people at the highest levels of sport as well as a WhatsApp group of elite coaches. Ben Rumsby lifts the lid on the powerful groups.
Among the praise showered on Gareth Southgate for leading England to the Euro 2020 final has been acclaim for his hunger for new ideas to produce and sustain a winning team.
That has included looking outside the world of football for inspiration and “rebel ideas”, whether it be studying how the Mercedes Formula One team works or devouring books on anthropology.
Southgate is part of ‘Leaders P8’, a knowledge platform connecting people at the highest levels of sport. The England manager is also part of a WhatsApp group of elite coaches that spring up off the back of the network, featuring the likes of Arsene Wenger, Eddie Jones and Sir Dave Brailsford.
But when it comes to really thinking outside the box, it is another group of “brilliant minds” formed specifically to help transform England’s fortunes that may have helped Southgate most ahead of Sunday’s Euro 2020 final.
You can read Ben's fascinating reporting here.
Touts demand £10,000 a ticket for England Euro final
Football supporters have turned to the black market to attend crucial match, reports Adam Williams.
English football fans have scrambled to secure their place at the Euro 2020 final, with match tickets changing hands for more than £10,000 each.
England booked their place in Sunday night’s showpiece final against Italy at Wembley by beating Denmark 2-1 on Wednesday evening, with striker Harry Kane scoring an extra time winner.
Tickets for the game are officially sold out, but many supporters have turned to third-party resale websites and online touts to see their heroes in action.
Tournament organiser Uefa has repeatedly sought to block fans from selling tickets for more than their face value, but final tickets have been sold for five figure sums since England’s semi-final success. Thousands of Italian fans living in Britain have also sought tickets for the final after they beat Spain on Tuesday evening.
Tickets for the final were originally sold in four price categories, ranging from €95 (£81) for the cheapest seats to €945 for the most expensive category.
You can read Adam's consumer report in full here.
Meet Martyn Margetson - the silent hero who has transformed Jordan Pickford
Martyn Margetson was the disc-jockey on the coach back to St George’s Park after beating Germany, but his role in the England camp is much more than blasting out 80s classics. He has been vital to Jordan Pickford keeping five clean sheets, reports Mike McGrath.
The goalkeeper coach’s work is detailed and thorough with Pickford, Sam Johnstone and Aaron Ramsdale, with each of them getting through 500 to 700 saves a week from the sessions put on at SGP.
Margetson, who played and coached with Wales before joining England in 2016, has worked on the technique of Pickford, making sure his hands are not too low when he faces shots, so the distance to make a save is shorter.
The stance of Pickford and how bent his knees are all play a part in how he saves shots, which is what Margetson’s analyses.
"I always coach about seeing your hands in your eyeline — because it's easier for your brain to recognise what your save choice has to be," he said in a coaching masterclass last season.
Margetson’s results have been impressive, with Pickford pulling off important saves during his clean sheets in the first five games of the Euros. He has coached at West Ham, Cardiff, Everton and most recently Swansea City, where Freddie Woodman, Gareth Southgate’s godson, has flousished.
“I have never improved in one season as much as I did at Swansea,” Woodman said.
“There are things he has put in my game from when I first came. I know people who maybe don’t understand goalkeeping might not get it, but I feel a lot more mature when I play the game. That is down to the work we do day in and day out.”
Italian commentator among media to test positive for Covid-19
Commentator Alberto Rimedio was among three members of the Italian media covering Euro 2020 for national broadcaster RAI to test positive for Covid-19, just two days before the final against England, a RAI source told Reuters on Friday.
The three included Rimedio, the television commentator for all of Italy's games, and two technicians, one of them based in Florence where the national team has its base.
The media centre of the Coverciano training camp, on the outskirts of the city, was immediately sanitised.
A source close to the team told Reuters there were no particular worries about infections involving the players who are protected by strict security measures.
Elsewhere, European Union chief executive Ursula von der Leyen is rooting for Italy to beat England on Sunday in the Euro 2020 soccer final, a European Commission spokesperson said.
"Her heart is with the Squadra Azzurra, so she will be supporting Italy on Sunday," the spokesperson told a regular Commission briefing when asked by reporters who von der Leyen, a German national, was backing in the final at Wembley.
Commission officials who oversee the working of the 27-nation bloc usually avoid taking national positions, but Britain's departure from the EU made von der Leyen's allegiance to founding EU member Italy inevitable.
The England team Gareth Southgate should pick to defeat Italy and win Euro 2020: Telegraph football writers select their XIs
England face Italy in the Euro 2020 final at Wembley on Sunday evening after coming from behind to see off Denmark in extra-time of their last-four clash.
It will be the first time the men's England side have played in a major final since winning the World Cup in 1966 - a gap of 55 years.
Southgate will follow in the footsteps of Sir Alf Ramsey by taking charge for such an occasion but if they are to win the European Championship for the first time, England will have to beat a side which has not tasted defeat since September 2018.
With that in mind, we have asked our team of football writers to reveal who they would like to see Southgate pick to take on the Azzurri.
You can read their picks here. Tell us what you think in the comments section below and join the debate, by selecting your own team.
Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini continue mind games
Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci said they are wary of the speed of England's attack ahead of Sunday's Euro 2020 final, joking that for him and his defensive partner Giorgio Chiellini it will be "youngsters against old men".
Juventus centre back Bonucci, 34, is set to make a record 18th appearance for Italy at the European Championships in the final, with club team mate Chiellini, 36, likely to be by his side.
The pair, who have 219 international caps between them, will face several much younger England attackers on Sunday, with the likes of Bukayo Saka, 19, Jadon Sancho, 21, Jack Grealish, 25, and Raheem Sterling, 26, set to play some part at Wembley.
"It is youngsters against old men," Bonucci told a news conference on Friday. "They have very strong attackers, we will need great attention towards them and the whole team. "We know the difficulties they can give us and we will have to be careful about their speed
"We (he and Chiellini) finish on the 12th (July) and meet again on the 14th to go on vacation together. This says it all about our relationship on and off the pitch."
Bonucci also had words of praise for the England defence, which has conceded just one goal all tournament en route to the final.
"England have a super defence, I already said this during the qualifying phase," Bonucci added. "They have an excellent midfield, and behind them are (Harry) Maguire and (John) Stones who had great seasons at Manchester United and City. We will need to give great attention as a defence and show a lot of cunning to score in attack."
Meanwhile Giorgio Chiellini has said it is "no surprise" England are in the final as they were able to play all their matches at Wembley, bar one.
'My son's school is allowing pupils to go in late on Monday - this is pragmatic, sensible and patriotic'
Schools in England should be sympathetic to a nation of youngsters who will be enthralled by the final of Euro 2020, says Luke Edwards.
My son’s primary school sent an email to all parents this morning informing us that, if we want to allow our kids to watch England in the final of the European Championship, they do not need to be in on Monday until 11am.
What a wonderful idea: pragmatic, sensible and patriotic. It shows a real awareness of how special the weekend is for the nation.
It is not ordinary for England to be in a major final, so stop expecting parents to make ordinary decisions about what to do with bed times. We need more of this sort of flexible thinking, not less. We should be able to let our children watch the final with us and not worry about them being exhausted and irritable the next day.
This idea should be adopted nationally. Every primary school and secondary school in the country - ok, maybe this will be far less popular or relevant in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland - could do it, too.
You can read Luke's parenting crusade in full here.
Who will award the trophy to the winning team at Wembley at the Euro final?
At the 1966 World Cup final and Euro '96 final, the trophy was presented by Queen Elizabeth II - but not this year, reports Ben Rumsby.
His grandmother presented both the 1966 World Cup and 1996 European Championship trophies but the Duke of Cambridge will be denied the opportunity to do the same at the Euro 2020 final.
Uefa has confirmed that, as for the last five editions of its flagship competition, its president will hand the trophy to the winning captain after Sunday’s showdown between England and Italy.
European football’s governing body also confirmed that, unlike the last two major finals to be held at Wembley, the presentation will not take place on the stadium’s iconic balcony.
Both teams in the 1966 World Cup and Euro 96 finals had to climb the famous Wembley steps to collect their medals and the trophy from the Queen.
But, as for all major finals at the stadium since the coronavirus crisis began, Sunday’s post-match presentation will take place on the pitch.
Prince William, who is the president of the Football Association, is set to take part in the ceremony and congratulate or console England’s players but the honour of handing over the trophy will go to Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin.
You can read more of Ben's report here.
Atomic Kitten release 'Southgate you're the One' single
England team to donate large chunk of Euro 2020 prize money to NHS coronavirus heroes
The donation, which could run into the millions, will be made to NHS charities once the tournament has finished, reports Matt Law.
England’s run to the final of the European Championship is set to net the NHS a lucrative windfall with players intending to donate a huge chunk of their prize money to the heroes of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Football Association is in line to earn around £24million if England win a major tournament for the first time since 1966 by beating Italy, with roughly 40 per cent of that pot, in the region of £9.5m, to be split among the 26-man squad.
Should England lose and finish as runners up, then the FA would land around £2.6m less, bringing the bonuses for the squad down, but the players intend to make a sizeable donation of their winnings regardless of Sunday’s result against Italy.
The donation, which could run into the millions, will be made to NHS charities once the tournament has finished and the final details of the plan will be discussed in greater detail due to potential tax issues.
You can read Matt's report in full here.
Phil Foden urges England not to get caught up in emotion ahead of final
Phil Foden has urged England to remain calm ahead of their historic Euro 2020 final. The Three Lions face Italy in their first major final for 55 years at Wembley on Sunday.
Wednesday's 2-1 extra-time semi-final win over Denmark wrote the squad into the history books but Foden knows they cannot afford to get caught up in the occasion.
He said: "There are going to be so many emotions with the fans. The players have to stay focused and treat it like the first game of the tournament."
"Don't change anything because we've been brilliant in every game. Hopefully we can get it over the line. It would be my proudest moment. Nothing can beat winning with your national team."
Foden also revealed how the team celebrated following the Wembley victory, thanks to Harry Kane's winner after he followed up to score when Kasper Schmeichel saved his penalty.
The Manchester City midfielder told the official England podcast: "I'm a bad sleeper after games anyway but especially when you've made it to a final it's even harder. Once we got back to St George's we tried to get the sleep we needed and it was a later start the next day to help us."
"We had music on in the changing room and had a little celebration but then we had to go back to St George's Park on the bus and didn't get back until the early hours. We had a few people playing a speaker at the front of the bus and there is one at the back."
"Unfortunately I sit in the middle and it's a headache. I put my headset on and try to watch something. It's not the greatest. The people at the front are into different music to the ones at the back. (Tyrone) Mings, Conor (Coady) and Hendo (Jordan Henderson) at the front, Raz (Raheem Sterling) and Sanch (Jadon Sancho) with their type of music at the back."
"You get me stuck in the middle with one in each ear. I'm into my old school RnB, I've just not grown out of it. It's stuck with me forever."
Foden has also tried to convince the squad to copy his bleached haircut if they win the tournament but feels he is fighting a losing battle.
He added: "I've told them but I'm feeling they are not going to do it. We've still got a tough final to win. If we win I'd like to think they'd stick to their word but we'll see."
England are becoming more streetwise but in Italy they face the masters of the dark arts
Over the past three years Gareth Southgate's side have become more savvy - on Sunday they'll learn how smart they have become, write Mike McGrath and James Ducker.
England players have been holding training sessions and meetings since the World Cup over matching the likes of Italy for “streetwise” football, it can be revealed.
The issue of seeing out games, which resulted in a late semi-final winner for Croatia in Russia, was identified by Gareth Southgate and his coaching staff and their work culminated in keeping the ball for the final minutes against Denmark on Wednesday evening.
Raheem Sterling had the opportunity to go for a third goal at Wembley but stuck to the plan of killing off the game and securing a place in the European Championship final on Sunday against Italy, the masters of winning at any cost.
Southgate had talked about matching the mentality of top countries when he first took charge of England five years ago and the 53-pass move as they ran the clock down was evidence of the gap closing.
You can read more of their analysis on England's street smarts here.
Denmark keeper Kasper Schmeichel noticed laser pen long before England's Euro 2020 extra-time winning penalty
Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel said he first noticed a laser pen being shone in his face during the second half of the semi-final against England, but he added it did not distract him while Harry Kane took his penalty in extra time.
Uefa have opened proceedings against England over the "use of a laser pointer" which appeared to be shone in the face of Schmeichel during the decisive penalty in Wednesday's semi-final at Wembley.;
The charges came after footage emerged showing a green light across the face of Schmeichel in the moments ahead of Kane stepping up to take the spot-kick. The Dane originally guessed the right way with his dive but was unable to keep out the England's captain's rebound shot, the goal proving to be decisive in England booking their place in their first major men's final since 1966.
Speaking to Danish media following the defeat, Schmeichel said "I did not experience [the laser pen] on the penalty kick because it was behind me on my right side.
"But I experienced it in the second half. I told the referee. And he went to say something to one of the other officials."
The penalty drew plenty of ire from the Danish press on Thursday, who complained about play being allowed to continue. The national broadcaster DR, and several of the newspapers, also posted up a video showing the green light on Schmeichel's face.
"And then they wonder why no one likes England," the Jyllands-Posten newspaper quoted one Danish twitter user, Kasper Grøndah, writing. "Booing during the Danish national anthem, diving like crazy during the game, elbows in every header. Laserpens. I hope they get a taste of their own medicine against Italy."
From grassroots to Wembley
The official England Twitter page have released a graphic showing how the England players started their journey's to Wembley. It is a truly diverse picture, with players from up and down the land coming together...
'Euro 2020 final: This is what it feels like preparing for the biggest game of your life'
If England lift the trophy they will be seen as legends and people will always want to talk to them about the summer of 2021, says Cesc Fabregas.
I have played in every final possible for my clubs and national team, and I can tell you that there is nothing like preparing for playing in the final of a major tournament for your country.
A lot of England’s players have played in the final of the Champions League and those games are always special. But nothing else beats winning for your country. It’s something bigger than anything else you can live as a player, it’s something major. To see the whole country, your family, your friends so proud. I don’t think anything beats that.
When you know you will play in the final with your country, every time you shut your eyes or every time your mind wanders a little bit, the picture of yourself holding the trophy enters your head and I’m sure the England players have been experiencing that since they beat Denmark.
You can read the thoughts of the former World Cup and European Championship winner here.
Join our award-winning team for a live Q&A!
At 3.30pm, our Chief Football Writer Sam Wallace and Senior Sports Writer Thom Gibbs will be joining David Knowles on our Twitter Spaces to answer all your questions ahead of England v Italy.
They'll dive into the nitty gritty on both teams, as well as answering all your questions. You can submit your questions by replying to the tweet below.
Meet Bjorn Kuipers, the 'world's richest referee' and the man in charge of England vs Italy
Ben Rumsby reports that Kuipers, who runs branches of a supermarket that sponsors Max Verstappen, will become the first Dutchman to take charge of a Euros final.
With hopes of ending 55 years of hurt, emotions are guaranteed to be high for England's Euro 2020 final against Italy at Wembley. Telegraph Sport takes a look at Bjorn Kuipers, the Dutch referee - and supermarket chain co-founder - who will be the man in the middle on Sunday night.
The last time that Italy and England met in a tournament, at the 2014 World Cup, the Dutchman was the man in the middle. But England have had more success in recent times with Kuipers as the man with the whistle.
You can read Ben's profile of the Dutch millionaire here.
'Given Eddie Jones and Gareth Southgate's strong relationship, expect changes for Euro 2020 final'
Given Eddie Jones and Gareth Southgate's strong relationship, expect changes for Euro 2020 final, says Will Greenwood.
I would put everything I have, with total and utter conviction, on England's starting XI for the final on Sunday not being the same as the team that won the semi-final.
I don't know exactly how much Gareth Southgate and Eddie Jones speak to each other. It's almost certainly not every day, but they do have a relationship and as soon I saw the mass changes between England's first and second group-stage games, I immediately knew that Gareth had been chatting to Eddie.
Eddie's biggest frustration from the 2019 World Cup is that he didn't change the team between the semi-final and the final, having changed it for every other game beforehand. He regrets not doing that and Gareth has learned from it.
When we won the Rugby World Cup in 2003, Clive Woodward changed the team for the quarter-final, semi-final and final. There is an assumption that winning teams don't change the formula, but the reality is very different. Changing things is about the wider picture: it gives everyone the belief that they have a chance of being in the team, it fosters a much stronger team spirit, and creates a situation where everyone is in it to win it for each other.
You can read Will's thoughts in full here.
England have the chance to be the fourth team to win the Euro's at home
Three other nations have won the European Championships in their home stadiums - can England become the fourth on Sunday?
Spain were the first nation to manage the feat, winning at home in 1968. They were followed by Italy four years later, as well as France in 1984...
Why Denmark's free-kick goal was just as dodgy as England's penalty
England secured their place in the Euro 2020 final with a controversial penalty, but Mikkel Damsgaard's opening goal should not have counted, says Luke Edwards.
While Denmark’s sore losers fumed and bitter jibes poured in from across Europe after England secured their place in the final of the European Championship with a controversial penalty, it has emerged the Danes' goal should not have counted in their 2-1 defeat.
England’s players would have been spared the extra 30 minutes they needed to beat Denmark had the laws of the game been applied properly far earlier in the game.
Much has been made of the fact Raheem Sterling supposedly made the most of minimal contact in the area to win the penalty that was scored, at the second attempt, by Harry Kane in extra time.
And others, including the Denmark manager, Kasper Hjulmand, whined about the fact there was a second ball on the pitch when the Manchester City forward made his way into the area, which meant play should have been halted by referee Danny Makkelie, everybody has ignored the fact that the Denmark free-kick which put them in the lead midway through the first half should not have counted.
You can read Luke's counter-narrative in full here.
Dutch FA opens talks with van Gaal over return to national team
Louis van Gaal has moved a step closer to returning as Netherlands coach for a third time after meeting with Dutch football association officials to discuss the job, local media reported on Friday.
The reports said the 69-year-old held talks at his home in Portugal on Thursday with KNVB directors Nico-Jan Hoogma and Eric Gudde, who are responsible for the choice of a new coach after Frank de Boer’s resignation.
De Boer resigned after their Euro 2020 last-16 defeat to Czech Republic on June 27 and the KNVB said it would move swiftly to find a replacement, with the team set to resume their World Cup qualification campaign in September.
Van Gaal, who officially retired in 2019 but stepped away from the game two years earlier after leaving Manchester United, had two previous spells at the helm of the national team.
His first stint ended in 2002 after the Dutch failed to qualify for the World Cup, but he returned for a more successful spell in 2012, guiding the Netherlands to a third-place finish at the World Cup two years later.
He also had two spells at Barcelona and won the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich.
Van Gaal told Friday’s edition of L'Equipe that it would be a great honour to be approached to coach the Dutch again, though the French newspaper said the interview had been conducted before the KNVB opened negotiations.
Arsenal to be the latest club featured on All Or Nothing
Away from the Euro's, Arsenal will be the latest Premier League club to grant access to Amazon Prime’s documentary makers after agreeing to become the subject of the next All Or Nothing series, reports Sam Dean.
Arsenal are following Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur in taking part in the show, which offers a fly-on-the-wall look at the inner workings of sports teams.
Filming is due to start in the next few weeks, as Mikel Arteta and his players step up their preparations for the new season.
“We are looking forward to giving our fans around the world a unique insight into how we work day to day,” said Mark Gonnella, Arsenal’s director of media, communications and community affairs.
“We have one of the biggest global followings in the game and one consistent thing we hear from fans is their desire to see more about what happens behind closed doors at the club.
“All or Nothing will give our fans and sport lovers an opportunity to learn more about what makes Arsenal such a special club, our trophy laden history and our ambitions for future success.”
The presence of the Amazon cameras has occasionally created unwanted tension at the clubs in question.
Mauricio Pochettino, the former Tottenham Hotspur manager, hinted in 2019 that he had concerns about the extra workload created by the documentary and suggested that he should add “producer” to his list of responsibilities.
The upcoming campaign comes at a pivotal moment in the club’s history, with Arsenal looking to bounce back from a disappointing eighth-placed finish in last season’s Premier League and a failure to qualify for European competition.
“Arsenal is a historic club going through a fascinating period, and we can’t wait to take viewers behind-the-scenes on the journey of this crucial season,” Dan Grabiner, Head of UK Originals, Amazon Studios, told Deadline.
“All or Nothing is about intimate access to the passion and commitment behind elite sport, and in Arsenal we have the perfect subject for the next chapter.”
This will not be the first time that a team owned by Stan Kroenke has appeared on the series, as the 2016 season of Kroenke's Los Angeles Rams was also covered by Amazon.
'First Brexit, now this' - the view from Europe on England reaching Euro 2020 final
Gareth Southgate's side has marched through to the final, where Italy await, and created shockwaves across the continent in the process.
Telegraph Sport has spoken to journalists from across the continent to get the views of our comrades.
You can read their views in full here.
Football has given England its swagger back
Wednesday's semi-final win has created a collective state of joy, hope and delirium that we feared may never return, writes the legendary Mick Brown.
At around 10.15pm on Wednesday a remarkable thing happened in England – and possibly in parts of Wales and Scotland, too. There was an outpouring of unbridled, delirious, insane joy, of the sort that has not been seen for years and years, and which, given the events of the past 18 months, some might have feared we’d never see again.
As the the final whistle blew, and the England team, dazed in victory, ran as one towards their supporters to join in singing Sweet Caroline it was as if the lid had blown off a box to release a huge explosion of collective jubilation and catharsis, in pubs, living rooms, box parks and public squares.
For what was being celebrated, of course, was not just a football score, cheering as that undoubtedly was, but the blessed, momentary release from months of being cooped up, anxious and grieving, of worrying about our loved ones, our jobs, our futures, of wearing masks and social distancing.
You can read Mick's love letter to this England team here.
Watch Italy's best goals in Euro's history
Quite the collection of peaches in here...
Self-berating Jordan Pickford 'needs more composure after mistakes'
England need Pickford to stay as cool as his opposite number, Gianluigi Donnarumma, on Sunday against Italy, writes Sam Dean.
Gianluigi Donnarumma, the Italy goalkeeper, was 17 years old when he replaced Gianluigi Buffon to make his debut for his national team. He had first appeared for AC Milan a year earlier, at 16, and was regarded as one of European football’s most promising talents long before he could drive a car or buy alcohol.
When Jordan Pickford was 17, he was loaned to Darlington. He later had spells with Alfreton Town, Burton Albion, Carlisle United, Bradford City and Preston North End, and he did not make his top-flight debut until he was almost 22. The contrast in the respective journeys of Donnarumma and Pickford, opponents in Sunday’s European Championship final, could hardly be more stark. While Donnarumma was groomed for the top level, Pickford was forced to grind his way to this point.
The Italian is the product of the slick Milan academy system, while Pickford’s success was born, in part, of the bruising world of non-League football and his own single-minded determination. The differences do not end there. With his powerful 6ft 5in frame, Donnarumma is among the world’s most physically imposing keepers. Pickford, at a comparatively short 6ft 1in, is far more springy than domineering. Donnarumma has a calm authority, while Pickford has often played with the agitated energy befitting a man who once had “get the rave on” inscribed onto his boots.
You can read Sam's analysis on the battle of the keepers here.
Geoff Hurst finds new career as stuntman
England's hattrick hero from the 1966 World Cup final Sir Geoff Hurst has taken on a new career in his eighth decade - apparently that of a stuntman.
The former West Ham striker has been pictured standing on top of a London Eye pod wearing a full replica kit from the 1966 final. The 79-year-old national treasure is expected to be part of the BBC's coverage of the final on Sunday evening.
Gareth Southgate became England manager by accident - thanks partly to The Telegraph
Our Chief Football Writer Sam Wallace maps out the extraordinary story of how Southgate became England manager, demonstrating that for every masterplan, there needs to be some good fortune.
From his place on the touchline at the Stozice Stadium in Ljubljana, Gareth Southgate may have been aware that there was some hostility in the chants from the travelling England away fans in Slovenia, although on this occasion it was not directed at either players, managers or even opposition.
The chant was aimed, instead, at a newspaper – this newspaper. “F--- the Telegraph, f--- the Telegraph, f--- the Telegraph,” sang the England support during that World Cup qualifier in October 2016. Southgate was in charge of just his second match as an emergency interim appointment. A month earlier he had been planning to be somewhere else that day – specifically Walsall, where his England Under-21s were playing Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Banks’s Stadium in a European Championship qualifier. Instead here he was in charge of the senior team – the accidental England manager.
The extraordinary story of how Southgate became England manager – now on the brink of Euro 2020 glory - demonstrates that for every masterplan, there needs to be some good fortune. When England were eliminated by Iceland at Euro 2016, prompting Roy Hodgson’s immediate resignation, the Football Association was plunged into a recruitment crisis. No young coaches who were suitable, no older candidates who wanted it. The FA offered the job to Arsene Wenger, who declined, and as for second choices there were few.
You can read Sam's written history here.
Italian fans must not travel to UK for Euro final, says Grant Shapps
British transport minister Grant Shapps has told Italian soccer fans not to try to travel to England for the final of this year's Euro 2020 tournament on Sunday.
England face Italy on Sunday in the final at London's Wembley Stadium, where crowds of around 60,000 people are expected but few of them will be Italians as Britain's travel rules require arrivals from there to quarantine for 10 days.
Asked on Friday what he would say to Italian fans trying to get to the game, Shapps said: "'Don't' is the answer to that simple question." "If we detect people are coming in just for the football, they won't be allowed in and in fact, lots of charter flights and direct flights have been cancelled on that basis," he told Times Radio.
How England became Europe's fittest team
England's run to the final of the European Championships has been underpinned by the fitness of the squad. As Gareth Southgate demonstrated side demonstrated in extra-time against Denmark, the squad has the ability to play at high intensity for 120 minutes.
The fitness levels of England are no accident with training volume individualised for each player.
Here, Telegraph Sport examines how England became the fittest team the tournament.
Mystic meerkats predict England will win Euro 2020 final
A group of so-called "mystic meerkats" at London Zoo have picked England to beat Italy in the Euro 2020 final on Sunday.
A zoo keeper planted England and Italy flags in the ground and the meerkats' task was to knock one down. It took them about five minutes to choose England.
England will play Italy on Sunday at Wembley in the host nation's first major final since they won the World Cup in 1966.
Animals have been used in the past to predict the outcome of football matches.
A German octopus, known as Paul, shot to fame during the 2010 World Cup when he successfully predicted the outcome of eight matches.
He performed his trick by choosing a mussel from one of two boxes bearing the flags of competing nations.
Italy fans to be allowed into Euro 2020 final at Wembley without self-isolating
Ministers and Uefa agree on exemption for supporters, despite England fans being barred from entering Rome for the quarter final, reports out Whitehall Editor Harry Yorke.
As many as 1,000 fans from Italy will descend on Wembley on Sunday despite the fact that English supporters were effectively banned from Rome for their Euro 2020 quarter final.
Under a quarantine exemption agreed by the Government and Uefa, a delegation of fans from Italy will be allowed to attend the final against England without needing to self-isolate for 10 days.
It comes after ministers on Thursday announced that fully vaccinated English holidaymakers will be able to travel to amber list countries, including Italy, with their children from July 19 without having to quarantine.
England joined Italy in the final of the tournament after a historic semi final victory against Denmark on Wednesday night.
A national clean-up operation was under way on Thursday morning, after fans across the country partied into the early hours.
Some of the most eye-catching celebrations took place in London, where fans were seen clambering on top of London buses, traffic lights and red phone boxes.
Ahead of the final on Sunday, there are now growing calls for the Government to declare a Bank Holiday on Monday, with Downing Street encouraging employers to be flexible and allow staff to take the morning off.
The plans to allow foreign supporters to travel to the final were first revealed last month, and will enable the fans to travel to the UK to watch the match, providing they produce a negative pre-departure test.
They will also be kept in tight bubbles, stewarded and segregated to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission, and will also be required to travel in and out of the UK on Sunday.
The Italian Football Federation will distribute 1,000 tickets costing £525 each to fans. A looser exemption was carved out for up to 2,500 Uefa VIPs for the semi finals and finals.
It is expected that roughly 15 per cent of the crowd at Wembley will be made up of Italian fans, the majority of whom will be expats living in the UK.
However, government insiders on Thursday night pointed out that the “overwhelming” majority of fans in the stadium would be cheering on England, adding that the Italians had pushed hard for more of their supporters to be admitted.
UK sources also stressed the decision was necessary to prevent Uefa relocating matches overseas, but England fans are likely to take umbrage at the difference in approach in comparison to Italy.