England 'more determined than ever' to take the knee at Euro 2020, pledges Southgate

By Sports Desk June 05, 2021

Gareth Southgate has promised England's players and his coaching staff will continue to take the knee before games during Euro 2020.

Since the Premier League resumed in June 2020 following a coronavirus-enforced lay-off, players and management have taken the knee prior to kick-off in a display against racial discrimination and injustice.

The act has also translated to the international stage, with the England team showing their support.

However, before Wednesday's friendly win over Austria in Middlesbrough, some sections of the socially distanced, limited-capacity crowd at the Riverside Stadium booed the demonstration, although other spectators responded with applause.

Having said after the game that some people "were not understanding the message", Southgate vowed on Saturday not to bend to the naysayers. He also insisted his players would not be fielding questions on the topic during the Euros.

"We feel more determined than ever to take the knee," Southgate told a news conference ahead of Sunday's final pre-tournament friendly against Romania. 

"Those people should put themselves in the shoes of the young players.

"How would they feel if their kids were in that situation? We feel more than ever determined to take the knee during the tournament.

"We accept there might be an adverse reaction, and we're just going to ignore that and move forward."

It was a sentiment echoed by midfielder Kalvin Phillips, who added: "I was just happy that the boos got cancelled out by the fans cheering in the end, but I don't think it's a great situation, especially for us players.

"All we can do is just focus on the game and speak about it afterwards.

"The team spoke about it together and we came up with the conclusion that regardless of what goes on around, we're still going to participate in the kneeling, and I think that's a great idea."

Related items

  • Denmark's Euro 92 triumph: Thirty years on, the Danes have made dreamers of us all Denmark's Euro 92 triumph: Thirty years on, the Danes have made dreamers of us all

    They were the unlikeliest of all European champions and to this day remain the poster boys for all underdogs.

    Denmark, the Euro 92 winners, gave hope to generations of teams that would follow them onto the big stage.

    How could a nation with a population of a little over five million in 1992 sweep away the competition, when that competition looked so formidable?

    Michel Platini's France squad boasted Papin, Cantona, Deschamps, Blanc and Boli; Germany had Klinsmann, Hassler, Moller and World Cup final match-winner Brehme; the Netherlands fielded Van Basten, Gullit, Rijkaard and a young Bergkamp.

    Nobody was tipping Denmark, who were called into the tournament 10 days before it began after the expulsion of Yugoslavia, a decision taken by UEFA amid war in the Balkans.

    Denmark have given hope to teams who logically should have none. This hope has often been outrageously misplaced. The notion that 'if Denmark can do it, so can we' is a fallacy. The Danes opened the door and fantasists walked through.

    The 1992 Denmark team were a band of brothers who seized their unexpected opportunity, facing on-field and off-field challenges along the way. Thirty years since the June 26 final, we celebrate them.

    HOW ON EARTH DID THEY DO IT?

    There was little indication of what was to come when Denmark followed a 0-0 draw against England by losing 1-0 to hosts Sweden; however, a 2-1 victory over France in Malmo snapped the watching continent to attention.

    Peter Schmeichel. John Jensen. Brian Laudrup. Kim Vilfort. Torben Piechnik. The football world knew about goalkeeper Schmeichel, a year into his Manchester United career, and Laudrup was Denmark's star outfielder. But many in their side were barely known outside Denmark. Twelve of their 20 still played in the Danish league.

    Michael Laudrup was in international exile, after he and Brian quit the national team in late 1990, unimpressed with new coach Richard Moller Nielsen. Brian came back shortly before the Euros, but Barcelona forward Michael continued to give international football a swerve. Denmark got by without him.

    "We were very fortunate that we were one group of people who felt like pioneers in Danish football," Schmeichel told UEFA.com. "We felt we had responsibility to break the waves and go against the tide and prove to everyone that we can compete."

    He said it was a "myth" that the Danes had been summoned from the beach, not least because the Danish season was still in full swing.

    It was "like a funeral" in the Denmark dressing room after the England stalemate, according to Schmeichel.

    "But from that moment on we felt we were definitely in a position where we can compete in this tournament," he said.

    SLAYING THE GIANTS

    In an eight-team tournament, scraping through in second place from Group 1 meant the Danes went straight into a semi-final.

    Getting the better of the Netherlands looked beyond Denmark, given the defending champions were so strong.

    Both teams knew Germany were waiting in the final, having got the better of Sweden 3-2 in the first semi-final. The Netherlands had beaten Germany in the group stage, but their hopes of a second clash with Berti Vogts' side were to be shattered in Gothenburg.

    Henrik Larsen's double either side of a Bergkamp strike almost gave the Danes victory in 90 minutes, but Frank Rijkaard grabbed a late leveller. When it came to penalties, Schmeichel's save from Marco van Basten made all the difference, every other player scoring from the spot as Kim Christofte sealed the shoot-out success.

    In an interview at the FIFA Best awards in 2022, Schmeichel recalled how he had found inspiration in the national team from a young age.

    "I have to go back to even 1984 when Denmark lost to Spain in the semi-finals of the Euros," Schmeichel said.

    "I was in the generation that came after that and [took] the inspiration from that, and the understanding that even though we are from a small country with a limited number of people playing football, if you work hard and look for your luck, and we always produce skilful players, then there is an opportunity to create very, very good results."

    Denmark were winning their battles on the pitch, but the most important struggle was being fought away from the spotlight, with Vilfort's young daughter Line battling leukaemia.

    He missed the France game to be with his family in Copenhagen but returned to Sweden before the semi-final. A movie dramatisation of Denmark's great triumph that summer portrayed Line telling her father he should go back and join his team-mates.

    Come the June 26 final against Germany, the Danes were not alone in thinking the improbable might just be possible.

    At the Ullevi stadium, Germany began strongly but were caught out in the 18th minute when Jensen sent a sizzling strike past Bodo Illgner.

    Schmeichel and his defence defied Germany, and in the 78th minute came a magical moment for Vilfort when he found space between Brehme and Thomas Helmer before sending a low left-footed shot in off the right post, sealing a 2-0 win.

    Schmeichel said Denmark's achievement came "from not accepting we're a small country".

    "If we get the right circumstances, we can go and do whatever job we want to do, so it's more a mentality thing," he said. "I think that, more than anything, was why we won the European Championship. It was magical and unexpected."

    Coach Moller Nielsen later reflected on his sudden change of plans for June 1992.

    Moller Nielsen, who died in 2014, was quoted by UEFA as saying: "I was supposed to fit a new kitchen [in my house] but then we were called away to play in Sweden. The kitchen is finished now. I got a professional decorator to do it."

    From a hospital bed, Line Vilfort got to see her father lead Denmark to the country's greatest footballing success.

    She died a few weeks later, at the age of seven. Dad was a national hero, but this would be the cruellest of final chapters in the story of these great Danes, a personal tragedy amid a summer-long national celebration.

  • Deluge of wickets turn third Test in England's favour as New Zealand wilt after rain delay Deluge of wickets turn third Test in England's favour as New Zealand wilt after rain delay

    Daryl Mitchell and Tom Blundell ended day three at Headingley tasked with producing another defiant partnership to put New Zealand in a winning position after England seemingly tilted the balance of a fascinating third Test slightly in their favour.

    Seeking a 3-0 whitewash with victory at Headingley, England resumed play on the third day hopeful Jonny Bairstow and Jamie Overton would steer them into a first-innings lead.

    Bairstow added to his overnight 130 to go past 150 in expedient fashion and, though Overton (97) was denied a Test century on debut, England claimed a lead of 31 runs as they were bowled out for 360.

    Tom Latham (76) produced his best batting effort of a difficult series, but New Zealand slumped from 152-2 to 168-5 after a rain break in the evening session to leave Mitchell and Blundell nursing a lead of 137 when rain stopped play.

    Bairstow was fluent once more after the morning session got going, his 150 the second-fastest in England's Test history as it came in 144 balls.

    Overton was evidently more nervous and his hopes of a hundred went when he chased an off-stump delivery from Trent Boult and edged to first slip.

    Stuart Broad (42) hit a barrage of boundaries to help England beyond 350 before he and Bairstow went in successive balls, Jack Leach the last man to depart after a pair of fours.

    Despite Will Young's early exit to Matthew Potts (2-20), New Zealand progressed serenely until the first ball after tea, when Overton had Latham caught behind.

    A brief rain delay undid New Zealand further. Ollie Pope claimed a brilliant catch at short leg as Devon Conway fell to Joe Root and Potts drew an edge to remove captain Kane Williamson (48), with Ben Stokes' faith in Leach rewarded by the spinner dismissing Henry Nicholls (7) caught and bowled and giving Mitchell and Blundell a recovery mission.
     

    Quick work for Bairstow

    Bairstow, who finished with 162 from 157 balls, was the star of the show with the bat at his home ground in England's first innings.

    He did most of the damage on day two but only Stokes, who did so in 135 balls against South Africa in 2016, can claim to have reached a Test 150 faster than Bairstow, who donned the wicket-keeping gloves for New Zealand's second innings due to a back problem for Ben Foakes.

    Can New Zealand's dream team do it again?

    Mitchell and Blundell combined for a stand of 195 in the first Test and 236 in the second. They will likely need to produce another fine partnership to help New Zealand post an imposing target for England.

    Potts, who has now dismissed Williamson in three of the Black Caps skipper's four innings this series, looks in the kind of form to thwart them.

  • 'Fancy doing another Trent Bridge?' – Bairstow revels as another Test century blunts New Zealand 'Fancy doing another Trent Bridge?' – Bairstow revels as another Test century blunts New Zealand

    Jonny Bairstow could not hide his emotions after crafting his second century in as many Tests for England against New Zealand, but the message that prompted his innings at Headingley was simple.

    Bairstow arrived at the crease with the score at 21-4 in front of his home Yorkshire crowd, with Trent Boult and Tim Southee having ran through the England top order on Friday.

    Ben Stokes and Ben Foakes followed soon after to leave the hosts reeling at 55-6, before debutant Jamie Overton and Bairstow combined in a record seventh-wicket Test stand for England at Headingley.

    The pair put on 209 runs in just 37.1 overs to leave England trailing the Black Caps first-innings score by 65 after Bairstow posted his second Test century on his home ground.

    Indeed, it was not the first time New Zealand have been frustrated by Bairstow, who plundered the second-fastest Test century in England's history at Trent Bridge in the second Test of the three-match series.

    Bairstow revealed he had joked about recreating the Trent Bridge innings, where he combined with captain Stokes in imperious fashion, after the pair were brought together with wickets tumbling in Leeds.

    "'Fancy doing another Trent Bridge?' was the first thing we said. That was it. OK, let's crack on," Bairstow told Sky Sports.

    "Sometimes it's a simple game we complicate. We're trying to strip back that complicated nature of it back. Allow people to go out and express themselves, also as personalities.

    "We talk about growing the game and you grow the game by showing people your personality.

    "It was good craic. It feels amazing. This place means so much to me, being a Yorkshire lad scoring a Test 100 at home is pretty special. My family and my mates are here as well.

    "Every time you score a Test hundred it's emotional. You know what I'm like, it means so much for me to play Test cricket for England. That's the kind of guy I am. I wear my heart on my sleeve. That's not always everyone's cup of tea."

    Bairstow also had plenty of praise to dish out to his partner in crime Overton.

    "For Jamie [Overton] to play the way he did, on debut, under pressure, to have the confidence to play as he did against this New Zealand attack, that is exceptional," he added.

    Bairstow will resume on day three unbeaten on 130, while Overton is just 11 runs shy of marking his Test debut with a century as England look to complete a series whitewash.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.