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Gareth Southgate is proud that England have secured a place in two consecutive European Championship finals.

Image source, fake images

Screenshot, England are the first team in Euro history to reach the final despite trailing in both the quarter-finals and semi-finals.

Gareth Southgate says England have “given their fans some of the best nights in 50 years” after booking their place in back-to-back European Championship finals.

A dramatic 90th-minute winner from substitute Ollie Watkins sealed a 2-1 victory over the Netherlands as England came from behind to advance to the final with Spain.

Southgate led England to their first final in 55 years when they lost to Italy at Euro 2020, but they will hope to go one better this time.

“I took the job to try and improve English football and now we’re in a second final. The last one was the first for more than 50 years. Now we’re in our first one abroad,” Southgate said.

  • Author, Emma Sanders
  • Role, BBC Sports Journalist

“We’re giving people some amazing nights out. We’ve given our fans some of the best nights out in the last 50 years. I’m very proud of that.

“I’m glad everyone at home feels the same way we did and the people in the stadium felt. But we’re not done yet.

“We have to prepare for the most important test possible. We came here to try to win the tournament and that remains our goal.”

Video subtitle, Highlights: Watkins sends England into Euro 2024 final

It has not been an easy journey for England, who are the first team in Euro history to reach the final despite falling behind in their quarter-final and semi-final matches.

Criticism has come with fans showing their frustration, throwing plastic cups at Southgate after their 0-0 draw with Slovenia in the group stage.

“We all want to be loved, don’t we? When you do something for your country, you’re a proud Englishman, you don’t feel like you get anything back and all you read is criticism, it’s tough,” Southgate said.

“To be able to celebrate a second final is very special. If I hadn’t been on the pitch, I would have been watching and celebrating like (the fans) did.”

“I’m the one who has to pick a team, so being able to give them a night like tonight was very special.

“We came here to win and play against the team that was the best in the tournament (in the final). But we are still here and fighting.”

‘It’s time to put ourselves in history’

Image source, fake images

Screenshot, No other England player made more tackles or interceptions than Kobbie Mainoo (left) against the Netherlands.

Having suffered defeat to Italy at Wembley three years ago, England are determined not to leave empty-handed this time.

Real Madrid midfielder Bellingham told BBC Radio 5 Live that the team have “lived to fight another day” in their bid to become the first English men’s team since 1966 to win a major trophy.

“I’m very proud of the lads. The reaction, the attitude and the mentality… Quality is one thing, but those characteristics are not learned in training, they are acquired through experience and among themselves,” he added.

“Now it’s just another game. We’re tired, it’s been a long season, but it’s one last push for our country and for history.”

Manchester United midfielder Kobbie Mainoo, 19, has impressed in the knockout stages and became the youngest England player to appear in the semi-finals of a major tournament.

“It’s an indescribable feeling, we’re all excited! It’s been quite a journey and we’ve built on previous performances,” Mainoo told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“The only way is up: it’s time to put ourselves in history.”

“An incredible opportunity to win it”

Video subtitle, England celebrates the final whistle

It was a rollercoaster night in Dortmund as the Netherlands took an early lead thanks to Xavi Simons’ powerful goal.

England hit back when Harry Kane converted a controversial penalty and they dominated for long periods before Watkins provided the winning moment late on.

“I feel exhausted and like I’ve been there myself. It’s a great night,” said former England striker Alan Shearer.

“Sometimes you have to suffer in international football. When things got tough, they had to find different answers and they had to find a way to do it again.

“This team has done it without playing spectacular football in four or five games. Now they have an incredible opportunity to win.”

Former England defender Gary Neville said his side were doing “whatever it takes” to win games and were improving their form.

Is there a feeling then that England could beat tournament favourites Spain in the final?

“It looks like the time is coming. They have been doubted all the time and so far it’s a great story. Why shouldn’t it continue?” said former England defender Matthew Upson.

“One of the great things about this group is that they have a bit of arrogance and petulance, but in a good way.

“We have players who are performing at enormous levels in the best teams in the world. We have confidence and that shows in the penalties and in moments like this.”

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