By News Team
Last Updated: 9th July 2021
Former England goalkeeper David Seaman believes the Three Lions must have faith in their attacking abilities when they play Italy in the European Championship final on Sunday, as sitting back and inviting pressure will see Gareth Southgate’s side punished.
England booked their place in the final after the extra-time victory against Denmark on Wednesday, and Seaman also thinks the Three Lions will need to perform better than they have done throughout the tournament to lift the trophy.
He told William Hill: “It’s a great achievement, and it was an unbelievable night, but the work doesn’t stop there because you want to win the final when you get there and that’s what it’s all about. I know people will talk about it being the first one since 1966, but all you’ve got to think about is winning the game.
“I’m expecting it to be very tactical to start off with on Sunday against Italy, but I hope England enforce their game on them. You can’t sit back against the Italians, or they’ll punish you.
“We’ve got to go at them with pace and especially with the two older centre-halves they’ve got, we’ve got to get at them. They are organised, and they know when to slow a game down and time waste. You don’t go 30-odd games unbeaten without being a good side.”
While Seaman still expects the Three Lions to step up and perform at a higher level, he’s been impressed with the determination and grit to get the job done when they’re not playing well.
He said: “They’ve got the desire to go and win it, there’s no doubt about that. The team showed that by going a goal down and coming back they have great determination too.
“With what’s been going on throughout the tournament with the clean sheets, it just showed that the team have a lot of confidence in each other after going a goal down. We were creating chances, and Denmark didn’t really get through.
“Jordan (Pickford) had a few easy saves to make, and then he didn’t have much chance with the free-kick. I think he was a little bit unsighted because one of their players didn’t move at the end of the wall, so I don’t think you can blame him.”
Seaman has spoken of the importance of Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane’s input throughout the Euros, and he was delighted to see the pair play crucial parts in both goals on Wednesday.
He said: “Harry and Raheem have both been doing this for a long time, and for people to question them they have to take a look at themselves. As much as Harry wasn’t himself in the first few games, you have to keep him in because you know he’s going to come good.
“With Raheem, it’s not just his goal-scoring ability, it’s the way he gets at defenders with his pace and he frightens them. He’s always in the right spot, and even with the own goal for the equaliser he was there to put it away if the defender hadn’t put it in first.”
There’s been debate about the penalty awarded to England in extra-time, which saw Sterling bundled over in the box. It’s been questioned how much contact there was, which has annoyed Seaman as he thinks England deserve the rub of the green after so many years of tough breaks.
He said: “I think there’s contact on Raheem, and when he’s going at that pace he’s always going to do down with any nudge. It wasn’t a great penalty from Harry, but it just shows you even the best players get nervous.
“We’ve gone a long time with bad luck, and people can say ‘you’ve had an easy route to the final’, but we shouldn’t care. When I got to the last 16 and quarters, we got Argentina and Brazil and that’s bad luck!
“The lads are creating their own history now. Euro ’96 was a long time ago now, and they’ve already been at a World Cup semi-final, so it’s coming together perfectly now and also preparing us for the next World Cup.”
The former Arsenal and England No.1 admits nerves could be getting to the players and supporters, and that the tension will be palpable on Sunday at Wembley.
He said: “It’s not just physically how much it takes it out of you, and because of the pressure they get mental fatigue and end up cramping. It’s all the added pressure and that’s what can create tiredness. They’ll be training today and tomorrow and a light session on Saturday and then preparing for Sunday.
“It’s 50/50 on Sunday because they (Italy) can be really good, but so can we, and I still think we haven’t reached our potential yet. Even in the game yesterday I didn’t think we played our best. We’ve had great results at 75% performances.”
Southgate has tinkered slightly with his starting XI throughout the tournament for tactical and personnel reasons, but Seaman expects his former England teammate to pick an unchanged side for the Italy match.
He said: “I think this could be the first time he names an unchanged team as long as no one is injured. His team on Wednesday was his strongest team, and I know Jadon Sancho won’t be too happy about it, but Bukayo Saka’s come in and been great. He set up the first goal and he’s always positive and looking to get past players.
“I think a lot of the fans will be getting cramp, never mind the players! It’ll be a big day, but the beauty of it is that it’s at Wembley. I’m sure it’s going to be an amazing day, and if it’s anything like the semi-final I played in, and the semi-final on Wednesday then I think it’ll be great.
“I have to go 2-0 England, or it could be 1-1 and then we win on penalties for a change!”