By Andrew Warshaw
July 5 – ‘It’s coming home’ has been the familiar refrain for the best part of a month and now England are two games away from erasing 55 years of hurt by becoming European champions for the first time.
The hype in the wake of the national team reaching the semi-finals of Euro 2020 has reached fever pitch ahead of Wednesday’s showdown with Denmark when victory would earn them a place in a major final for the first time since winning the 1966 World Cup.
Only ex-pats from mainland Europe managed to get tickets for last Saturday’s 4-0 quarter final demolition of Ukraine in Rome but there will be 60,000 at Wembley hoping to cheer Gareth Southgate’s team into the final on July 11 against either Italy or Spain.
Two goals from captain Harry Kane, one from defender Harry Maguire and another by substitute Jordan Henderson earned England their biggest win ever in the competition’s history, eclipsing their 4-1 victory against the Netherlands in the group stage of Euro ’96.
“It’s been a long year for everyone. I’m chuffed the two performances have brought so much happiness to people,“ said Southgate, whose side in the previous round beat Germany in a knockout tie for the first time since that World Cup final.
England’s semi-final opponents will be no pushovers, however.
The Danes came into Euro 2020 in outstanding form, losing only twice in 28 games, and have gone from strength to strength since the trauma of their opening group fixture during which midfielder Christian Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest.
Back in 1992 they shocked the Continent by winning the title after replacing Yugoslavia at the 11th hour, and are now writing another fairytale story having lost their first two games at the tournament.
Coach Kasper Hjulmand is not happy, however, at the lack of Danish fans being allowed into Wembley.
All three of Denmark’s group games were held in front of a partisan crowd at the national stadium in Copenhagen and around 1,000 of their fans made the long trip to Baku for their historic quarter-final win over the Czech Republic.
However, with their country on the United Kingdom government’s amber list, Danes must quarantine for ten days on arrival meaning they are currently unable to travel to Wembley for Wednesday’s highly anticipated encounter.
“We hope Boris Johnson wakes up and gives access to thousands of Danish fans, otherwise we have to carry them on to the pitch,’ Hjulmand told Danish publication JP.
‘‘We know how much they have done to get all the way out here and support us and they were a huge reason why we could once again turn up, surprise people and play with so much energy out there. “
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