London (AFP) – England manager Gareth Southgate has told his players they should not be afraid to voice their ambition of winning Euro 2020 as he prepares to name his squad.
England, who reached the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, were crowned world champions on home soil in 1966 but their record in tournaments since then has been patchy.
Southgate’s side host Croatia, Scotland and the Czech Republic in next month’s group matches, which are being held across Europe. The semi-finals and final are also being held at Wembley.
He will name his 26-man tournament squad on Tuesday, with the England chief acutely aware of how the pressures and expectations will now rapidly ratchet up.
“I said ahead of the World Cup in Russia, we wanted the country to have pride in the team, and I think we achieved that,” he said.
“Some of that is about results, and some of that is about the way the team connect with the fans. Now of course if you don’t win the matches then that pride isn’t there, that’s the reality.
“And of course now we’ve been to two semi-finals (including the Nations League semis) and we are as keen as everybody else to go further.
“So we understand expectations change, and we shouldn’t be afraid of saying we want to go and win.”
Southgate said he was anxious not to look too far ahead in the tournament but he added: “We have to allow everybody to dream, we want to dream ourselves.
“But we’ve got to make sure we won’t just win because we’re at home, we won’t just win because we’re an exciting team.
“We’ve got to get all the parts right, and that’s got to be our aim.”
England’s overall European Championship record is poor — they have only once reached the last four, at Euro 96, which they also hosted.
At the 2016 tournament in France Roy Hodgson’s England suffered an embarrassing defeat to Iceland in the last 16.
“We’ve only been to one European semi-final as a country, never mind to a final or winning,” said Southgate.
“So we’ve a chance to be the first, and that is a challenge we should embrace.”