Soccer-Spirit is what sets England apart, says Southgate

·2-min read
Euro 2020 - Quarter Final - Ukraine v England

ROME (Reuters) - England coach Gareth Southgate said it was the spirit of the whole group that sets his team apart as they booked a spot in the European Championship semi-finals with a 4-0 win over Ukraine on Saturday.

Two goals from Harry Kane and headers from Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson saw England through to the last four of a Euros for the first time in 25 years, with Southgate hailing his side's collective attitude as the reason for their progression.

"We gave a fantastic performance, not only the players that started, but the players who came on kept the momentum going," Southgate told a news conference.

"I am also actually thinking about the players who I left out of the squad and who didn’t get on the pitch.

"They have been such a massive part of what we are doing. It is so difficult to keep a group of this size involved, happy, feeling valued. And yet those guys have been phenomenal in how they have sacrificed themselves for the group.

"We are in the semi-finals because of that spirit. Of course the quality of our play is important, but I have seen lots of nations go out because they don't have the spirit of these boys."

Up next for England is a clash on Wednesday at Wembley with Denmark who beat the Czech Republic 2-1 on Saturday.

The Danes have had an emotional tournament in the aftermath of Christian Eriksen's on-field cardiac arrest, and Southgate is aware of their quality and togetherness after the midfielder's harrowing experience.

"We know what a good side Denmark are and they have proved that in this tournament," Southgate added. "They are riding a wave of emotion with what happened with Christian as well.

"It will be a fantastic game to be a part of. We have more experience of those kind of games as a group and individually the players have experience of those games too (from club level), so we've got to use that on Wednesday night."

The prize on offer is a first European Championship final appearance for England, and a second in major tournaments.

"We still have a long way to go," Southgate added. "Before the end of tonight's game I was already thinking about the next challenge.

"That's the one for us, we have never been to a European Championship final, and it is another opportunity for us to make history."

(Reporting by Peter Hall; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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