PA Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.
Euro Vision
'Has it ever come home?' - Denmark's Schmeichel takes cheeky swipe at England
Gareth Southgate is urging the Three Lions to seize their chance to make Euro history.

DENMARK GOALKEEPER KASPER Schmeichel took a cheeky swipe at England on the eve of their Euro 2020 semi-final showdown as he poked fun at their long wait to win a major tournament.

England’s only major trophy came when they won the 1966 World Cup and the nation is at fever pitch as Gareth Southgate’s side move within touching distance of ending that long drought.

A victory over underdogs Denmark in front of 60,000 frenzied fans at Wembley on Wednesday would take England to their first final for 55 years.

England supporters have been serenading their team through the tournament with chants of ‘Football’s coming home,’ the anthem that first became popular when the Three Lions reached the Euro 96 semi-finals.

Asked what it would mean to ruin England’s dreams of Euro glory, Schmeichel said: “Has it ever been home? I dont know. Have you ever won it? ’66? Was that not the World Cup?

“To be honest I haven’t given any thought to what it would mean to stop England. It’s more what it would do for Denmark. I’ve focused very little on the England team.

“It’s what it would do for our country back home. The joy it would bring to five million back home to do something like that, to compete with the nations we are competing with. Not really a lot of feelings for England on this.”

England are firm favourites to advance to the final, piling pressure on Southgate’s men not to slip up against Denmark.

“When you have a team with so many world stars like England, the expectations are always going to be high,” Schmeichel said.

“I can’t imagine such a team will be affected by what the country expects of them. But they respect us. They know we are going to fight until the end.”

Since England’s World Cup triumph over half a century ago, even Denmark — not one of European football’s superpowers — have won major silverware.

They were surprise winners of the 1992 European Championship, with Kasper’s father Peter Schmeichel in goal.

The Danes are back in the Euro semi-finals for the first time in 29 years and Schmeichel said: “It’s the kind of game you dream of playing. The worst part is the waiting time. I can’t wait to get out on the pitch.

“It’s incredible to be here with these boys after everything we have been through in the last 10 years. It’s going to be an incredible moment.”

england-training-st-georges-park-tuesday-july-6th PA Southgate at England training today. PA

Meanwhile, Southgate has challenged England to exorcise the ghosts of their painful past as they look to reach the final for the first time.

Since winning the 1966 World Cup, England have endured four agonising semi-final defeats in major tournaments, but Southgate is convinced his team are ready to rewrite that bitter history at Wembley.

Beaten in the last four at the 1990 and 2018 World Cups and Euro 1968 and 1996, England are favourites to advance to Sunday’s final after sweeping to the last four with impressive victories against Germany and Ukraine in the knockout stage.

“The prize is one that we’ve never experienced. We’ve never been to a (Euro) final, so it’s a great opportunity for our players to make some more history,” Southgate said.

“These players are making history and breaking barriers all the time, and have done so in this tournament.

“The players are ready. They’ve got tremendous experience having been in this situation before. Our preparation has been calm.”

When Southgate led England to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals in Russia, it was an unexpectedly strong campaign for a team that had suffered a humiliating Euro 2016 exit against minnows Iceland under his predecessor Roy Hodgson.

England’s defeat against Croatia was a disappointing conclusion to their adventure three years ago, but Southgate says the experience has been invaluable to their run at Euro 2020.

“We are ready for the game and the players are ready. We have the experience of being in this situation before,” he said.

“We have always tried to build step by step. You can talk about winning things all you like but until the team has evidence of it, it is hollow really.

“Before the run in Russia we had lost in France and been beaten by Germany and we weren’t beating the top teams.

“On the back of that run to the semi-finals in 2018 we have since won in Spain and beaten Germany the other week, as well as Belgium in the Nations League.

“So there is more evidence and more belief now. You need to be winning the big games and winning them consistently and that has to be the aim.”

England will present a shirt to Denmark before kick-off in tribute to Christian Eriksen, the Danish star who is recovering after suffering a cardiac arrest against Finland.

“Given the fact he played in England and was such an impressive person, we wanted to have that recognition for him and his family,” Southgate said.

© – AFP, 2021

Screenshot 2020-11-24 at 9.04.07 AM

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