England v Italy: Three Lions are on the cusp of an opportunity to rewrite history

England will play Italy in the historic Euro 2020 final. Credit: PA

As the sun rose this morning it’s anyone’s guess how many of England’s squad saw it. How soundly would you sleep the night before a game that will define your future and potentially lock your name in the memories of millions of football fans?

That is what awaits Gareth Southgate’s England team today. They have tried telling themselves repeatedly ever since they beat Denmark that this is just another game. It isn’t and of course they know that.

They also know that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity; an opportunity to rewrite history. Again. They did it in Russia, they did it by getting through the semi-final in this tournament and they could do it again at Wembley this evening.

England v Italy: What you need to know about the Euro 2020 final

When is the final happening?

The Euro 2020 final kicks off at 8pm on Sunday 11 July at Wembley Stadium.

Can I get a ticket?

While the capacity for the final, along with both semi-finals which have all been at Wembley, has been increased to more than 60,000, it seems there is little hope of securing a ticket if you do not already have one. As it stands, there are no tickets on sale on the Uefa website for the final. Most ticket sales took place in 2019, long before the matches in each stage of the knockout stage of the competition were known. If the situation changes, however, and more tickets do become available, fans would likely need to stump up hundreds – if not thousands – of pounds to secure a seat.

Where can I watch the game on TV or online?

The game will be broadcast on ITV, with its coverage starting from 6.30pm on Sunday. It will also be available to stream online on the ITV Hub (for viewers in the UK only).

What if I'm watching it at a pub?

Pubs in England will be allowed to stay open later on Sunday, in case the final goes to penalties, Downing Street has said.

The government has granted pubs special permission to open until 11.15pm - 15 minutes after normal closing time on Sunday.

Anyone who tells you with confidence they know what is likely to happen over a couple of hours from 8 o’clock is deluded, it is far too close to call.

But England do have two huge advantages; they are playing at home and they are also performing in front of a large and partisan crowd. They will not lack support.

Does that actually matter? Well, if you listen to young sensation Bukayo Saka the answer is yes. Ahead of today’s final he talked about how the sheer noise of the fans gave England energy when they’d fallen behind against Denmark.

Other England teams over the years have retreated into their shells in front of a huge Wembley crowd, some players have gone missing in action by not even wanting the ball. An England shirt can sometimes weigh very heavily.

But not this group, they seem unburdened by any baggage. Under Gareth Southgate’s stewardship it is a side that doesn’t panic, that stays calm in adversity and will not tear up the game plan the instant things aren’t going their way. So far it has worked.

It is a team built around a well organised defence, Harry Kane up top and a couple of flyers either side of him.

And what a bench, any side that can keep Foden, Grealish and Sancho chomping at the bit has something about it.

Gareth Southgate kept his team cool-headed during their semi-final game against Denmark on Wednesday. Credit: PA

But it is also about mental strength, the ability to concentrate and stay disciplined for however long it takes and much of that stems from the culture Southgate has created.

Of all the tournament squads I have watched over the past decade, this genuinely seems to be the happiest; there are no club cliques and you can sense a camaraderie and togetherness. Conor Coady who’s yet to kick a match ball has described the past 6 weeks as the best of his life.

If the prize comes their way later I can’t think of a more deserving recent England team. There are no egos accepted in camp and among the squad there are many who have done as much significant work off the pitch as they have on it.

From Marcus Rashford’s free school meals campaign, to Jordan Henderson’s fundraising for NHS charities, to Raheem Sterling and his continued fight against racism. They are just three among many more.

Marcus Rashford was hailed by many in the UK for his campaign for free schools meals. Credit: PA

Ever since Gareth Southgate took charge he has encouraged his players to tell their own stories and become a team that all fans can connect with; a team that is a mirror of multicultural, multi-class Britain.

But Southgate is paid to win football matches and while losing tonight would still be regarded as progress for England, that is not the way he or the team sees it.

They know this chance may never come around again.

Just think, at your next pub quiz when you’re told you’ll get a point for the name of any player in the last England team to win a major tournament perhaps, for the first time in a very long time, your list of answers won’t begin with Moore, Charlton and Hurst.

England v Italy kicks off at 8pm on Sunday, July 11. Coverage starts on ITV from 6.30pm - it will also be available to stream live on the ITV Hub.