Roy excited by EURO 2020

Roy Hodgson has urged his young England squad to make EURO 2020 the pinnacle of their careers.

The Three Lions manager travelled to Geneva to hear Friday’s announcement that Wembley Stadium would host the final and both semi-finals of UEFA’s ‘EURO for Europe’ – and expects the tournament to showcase this country’s passion for football.

“It is tremendous for English football that in 2020 we will be hosting the European Championship final and semi-finals,” Hodgson said.

England XI v Switzerland

Age In 2020
Joe Hart
27  33
John Stones 20 26
Phil Jones 22 28
Gary Cahill 28 34
Leighton Baines 29 35
Jordan Henderson 24 30
Jack Wilshere 22 28
Fabian Delph 24 30
Raheem Sterling 19 25
Wayne Rooney 28 34
Danny Welbeck 23 29

“It can only be positive. Particularly for the young team that is emerging.”

England’s starting XI in the 2-0 win over Switzerland earlier this month had an average age of 24, and Hodgson raised the prospect that in six years’ time many could be at the peak of their powers.

“If the young players of today don’t use that as a spur then they will be making a big mistake,” he said.

“In 2020 they will be reaching the age of 27, 29. There will be hardly any of them who will be over 30.

“It must be something incredibly valuable for them to be able to look forward in their career, because their career has only just started at the top, top level.

Raheem Sterling is brought down by Valon Berhrami

Raheem Sterling will be only 25 by the time EURO 2020 comes around

“But they can finish it, or get close to the end of it, by playing two games at Wembley in the EUROS in 2020.”

Hodgson admits that England have struggled for a lack of major tournament experience in the past, but sees no reason why his current crop of England players cannot arrive at EURO 2020 as seasoned veterans.

He said: “Our main concern is the one in 2016 in France when all our players need to be 100 per cent focused, to get to France and when they get to France doing a good job.

“And if we can do that that will boost their confidence for the Russian experience in 2018. And by 2020 some of them will be playing in their fifth tournament.

“That is the type of experience you can’t buy. And we’ve seen with this German team which has won the World Cup that for many of the players it was their third or their fourth major tournament, maybe more if you count some of the Under-21 tournaments.”

Hodgson remembers the positive impact hosting Euro 1996 had on England, and then two years ago the way the nation was galvanised by the London Olympics.

“Euro 1996 was a great tournament,” he said. “I qualified Switzerland for the tournament and, although I was Inter manager by the time it came around, I was on the technical committee and remember it very fondly.

Gazza scores for England v Scotland at Euro 96

Paul Gascoigne in action during the last time the European Championship came to these shores

“The whole nation got behind the England team and I think Terry Venables’ team was very unlucky.

“The 2012 Olympics was an incredible experience. It just showed what good planning – on Lord Coe’s part and everybody else’s part – can do

“It also showed me how passionate English people are for their sport in general and football in particular.”

And he added: “I’m delighted for the English FA, and it is a tribute to the marvellous work done by Greg Dyke and Alex Horne. It is a marvellous result for English football. It is everything that the English FA could have hoped for. 

“We are on the back of a disappointing World Cup. We were slightly unlucky but it was a major disappointment, but I feel now there is a great deal of optimism within the squad that this could be an interesting period going forward for English football.

“I think this is a great result for England and hopefully people will celebrate it.”