MUCH-loved ex-England boss Terry Venables today sends an open letter to Gareth Southgate — telling him: “You and your team are writing your own moment in history.”
El Tel — manager 25 years ago when the Three Lions reached the Euros semi-finals with Southgate in the team — urges him and the players to show “courage”.
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And, addressing Southgate via The Sun on Sunday, he adds: “I will be with you in spirit on that touchline.”
The 78-year-old former Crystal Palace, Spurs and Barcelona coach led England at Euro ’96 — until now the closest the men’s team has come to football glory since 1966.
His team recorded a stunning 4-1 win over Holland en route to the semi-final as well as a memorable 2-0 victory over Scotland featuring a brilliant Paul Gascoigne goal.
Gazza also came within inches of converting an Alan Shearer cross-shot in the semi against Germany and Darren Anderton hit the post from inside the six-yard box during extra time when a “golden goal” would have sealed victory.
Venables, dubbed the “People’s choice” before taking over the England job in 1994, was then left comforting Southgate after his sudden-death penalty was saved.
The Germans went on to lift the trophy after beating the Czech Republic in the final.
Now he hopes Southgate’s team — led by captain Harry Kane, 27, and winger Raheem Sterling, 26 — can finally end England’s 55-year silverware drought.
In his letter, he says of England’s march to the final: “I knew exactly how, and what you were feeling as those incredible days which brought the country together back in ’96 came flooding back to me, feelings which cannot be fully appreciated unless you are standing on that spot.
“As you know, sport teaches us so many lessons about life and the saying, ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ is so true.
“Having watched all of the games, I have to say that your team are a credit to you as mine were to me, and I know that to achieve a connection like that is a luxury many managers could never accomplish.
“Enjoy every moment of your day on Sunday, knowing that our wonderful country are all behind you and your team cheering you on, willing you the success which you all deserve.”
Having watched all of the games, I have to say that your team are a credit to you as mine were to me,
El Tel will be watching the final tonight on TV with his wife of 40 years, Yvette.
England will be roared on by a 60,000-strong crowd at Wembley, set to include PM Boris Johnson and wife Carrie, Prince William, and David Beckham. Another 35million will watch on TVs at home, in pubs and in fanzones.
A source said: “Terry is looking forward to watching the lads and thinks they have a great chance.
“Let’s hope the boys see his words and they inspire them on to great things.”
Former SunSport columnist Venables fiercely defended stars including talisman Gazza after they were snapped boozing heavily in Hong Kong before Euro ’96.
Mason: My Belle of ball
By Dan King
THREE Lions ace Mason Mount says a girl’s tears after he gave her his shirt shows the Euros are about “more than just football”.
Belle McNally, ten, cried when he picked her out in the Wembley crowd following England’s 2-1 semi-final victory over Denmark.
Her tears were captured in video footage and Belle told The Sun: “It was the best night of my life.”
Chelsea star Mount, 22, said yesterday: “Many people see us as footballers and don’t see the personalities we have away from it. Belle’s reaction was so special.
“Sometimes, it’s more than football, what happens.”
But he admitted he won’t be giving away his shirt after tonight’s final . . .
Venables had announced in January 1996 that he would be quitting his post at the end of the tournament due to ongoing legal battles.
After England, he coached Australia, returned to Crystal Palace, and also bossed Middlesbrough plus Leeds in the early 2000s.
In 2014, he opened a hotel and restaurant in Spain with Yvette. They sold it in 2019 after they decided to retire.
Do it for our kids
YOUNG lions up and down the country will roar on Gareth Southgate’s England this evening.
Many schools are allowing a later start to the day tomorrow so kids can stay up to watch the historic clash against Italy on TV.
We asked under-10s to send in their messages. Here are some of their words of motivation to inspire the Three Lions.
"I love England, they are like me, I wear my shirt like them" – Jessie Huie, 3.
"Mum has promised us a week of no cabbage if England do it" – Poppie and Pixie, 8.
"Please win this for us because we have faith in you" – Pinner brothers.
"If England win, daddy says we can have lollies for breakfast" – Jack and Oliver Bird.
Wags get silk PJs in final treat
ENGLAND’s Wags got ready for the final in matching pyjamas.
The players’ partners were each given a special set of PJs with the date 11/07/21 embroidered on the sleeve and their loved one’s name on the pocket.
Harry Maguire’s fiancée Fern Hawkins, 26, Luke Shaw’s girlfriend Anouska Santos, 25, and Harry Kane’s wife Kate, 27, shared pictures of the nightwear on social media. And Anouska said: “This is the cutest.”
The £60 sets, from HA Designs, came in white silk with black trimming and red embroidery.
Last night, some of the girls were due to travel to stay at a hotel near Wembley Stadium.
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