England fans are drinking at pubs across the country and setting off flares outside Wembley Stadium as millions of supporters sport red and white to celebrate the Three Lions’ historic Euro 2020 final against Italy tonight – their biggest game in more than half a century.
An estimated 35 million people are expected to watch the once-in-a-generation match on TV while 60,000 spectators cheer on Gareth Southgate’s men later today in the side’s first major tournament final since the 1966 World Cup victory over West Germany.
The British Beer & Pub Association predicts England fans will buy 7.1 million pints on Sunday, while over the weekend an estimated £750million is expected to be withdrawn from cash machines – up 12 per cent on the same period a year earlier, according to ATM network Link.
In a welcome economic boost, by the end of the competition, it is estimated that £815million will have been spent in pubs and hospitality venues, with 32.6 million pints sold, a report by Vouchercodes.co.uk and the Centre for Retail Research (CRR) said.
The Queen, Prince William and Prime Minister Boris Johnson have all showered the Three Lions in praise, while thousands of England supporters urge the side to ‘bring it home’ on Twitter – with some fans revealing they have been so excited that they did not sleep last night.
In a good-luck video message posted on Twitter, the Duke of Cambridge praised manager Southgate, captain Harry Kane and ‘every member of the England team on and off the pitch’ as he said: ‘I can’t really believe this is happening’ and wished the squad ‘the very best of luck’.
He appeared to be crossing his fingers for an England win while at Wimbledon yesterday, where he and his wife Kate Middleton attended the grand slam to watch Australia’s Ashleigh Barty win the tennis Championship in an epic three-set final against Karolina Pliskova.
The duke said: ‘Gareth, Harry and to every member of the England team on and off the pitch, just want to wish you the very best of luck tonight. What a team performance it’s been, everyone in the squad has played their part. All the backroom team as well have been truly essentially.
‘I can’t really believe this is happening. So exciting and I just wish you the very best of luck. You bring out the very best of England and we are all behind you. The whole country is behind you. So, bring it home.’
A number of schools have already said they will allow pupils to start later on Monday if they wish to and some employers are considering letting staff enjoy a celebratory – or consolatory – lie-in after what could be a very late night. The final is due to kick off at 8pm and will finish by 10pm if it ends in normal time, but could end closer to 11pm if there is extra time or a penalty shootout.
The official England Twitter account posted this morning: ‘A matchday like no other’ – sparking a flurry of excited and anxious messages. One expectant fan wrote: ‘Massive day ahead, first final for @England in my lifetime. Wherever you’re watching it, whatever your plans are, enjoy! Proud of the squad and what they’ve done so far, but they can lift that trophy!’
Another said: ‘Today is the day! The sun’s out, enjoy it, embrace it, soak up the atmosphere!! The excitement, the nerves, the butterflies in the stomach. Go mad!! Who knows when or if this day will come again! #ItsComingHome’.
One tweeted: ‘Been up since 5am cos of today. Couldn’t sleep at all! C’mon @England #ItsComingHome #ENG’ – with another writing on Twitter: ‘Morning everyone, anybody got any sleep last night or feeling nervous ahead of #ITAENG #ItsComingHome Come on #ENG @England’.
England captain Harry Kane said his team hopes to do the nation proud in their bid for Euro 2020 glory. He told reporters at a press conference last night: ‘We want to go and bring the trophy home’ – adding: ‘We know how much it means to the English fans all over the country so we’re proud to be representing them and hopefully we can do them proud again.’
The Queen paid tribute to the ‘spirit, commitment and pride’ of the squad in a good luck message ahead of tonight’s final, while her grandson the Duke of Cambridge said it is ‘so exciting’ to get to this point.
The Prime Minister told Southgate and the players they had ‘already made history’ by reaching the final, writing: ‘You have lifted the spirits of the whole country, and tomorrow we know you can lift that trophy too. We are not just hoping or praying.
‘We believe in you, Gareth, and your incredible squad.’