Euro 2020

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Southgate’s passionate plea to England: ‘We must work together’

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Gareth Southgate has once again struck the perfect chord in his attempt to rally the people of England and fans of his Three Lions during these uncertain times of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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Southgate wrote an open letter, released by the English FA, calling on everyone to work together to conquer “what is clearly the most extreme test we’ve faced collectively in decades.” He also spoke of his excitement and pride to once again again represent England at the rescheduled European Championship — excerpts from Southgate’s letter which can be read in full here:

“For everyone in our country, the primary focus of the present — and the coming months — is undoubtedly to look after our families, support our communities and work together to come through what is clearly the most extreme test we’ve faced collectively in decades.

“In the way you’ve all come together to support our team, we must now work together to combat a virus that is causing physical and emotional issues to so many. So, please continue to follow the guidelines for hygiene and also the sensible precautions put in place to control the spread of the virus in order to protect those most vulnerable to its impact. That responsibility lies with us all.

“We are also conscious of the economic uncertainty affecting so many businesses and, consequently, virtually every family. Coupled with the unique challenges of self-isolation, the loss of routine to normal working and social life, we face real challenges to our mental wellbeing. Our children may feel anxious with uncertainty. It’s not normal for any of us and it’s going to challenge us all.

“We were due to play next week and to represent you all this summer but now is clearly not the moment for us to take centre stage. The heroes will be the men and women who continue working tirelessly in our hospitals and medical centers to look after our friends and families. They won’t receive the individual acclaim but we all know their importance is beyond anything we do on the pitch.”

“When we play again as an England team, it will be at a time when not only our country but the rest of the world as well is on the road to recovery. Hopefully we will be closer to each other than ever and ready for the beautiful distraction that football can bring.

“To play in a European Championship next summer will still be possible for all of our squad and so we shouldn’t spend another moment thinking about the postponement of the competition. I feel sure when that moment comes I will never have been prouder to be the leader.”

UEFA president deems coronavirus ‘biggest crisis’ in soccer history

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UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has fears for the future of world soccer as we know it, but he’s pretty hopeful.

Speaking in a lengthy Q&A with the Associated Press, Ceferin says this is an unprecedented challenge for the sport.

“I would say it is the biggest crisis that football faced in history. But it’s also a possibility to, as you said, to reset some things, put some things differently. And honestly speaking, I’m optimistic about the future. We will have to be a bit careful at the beginning, but we are capable of coming back.”

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Obviously soccer dealt with the a pair of world wars and countless regional traumas but the modern, rich era has not seen much like the halting of the sport by coronavirus.

Ceferin was speaking following the postponement of EURO 2020, which is now EURO 2021.

The UEFA president said he was heartened by the showing of a similar mindset between the world’s confederations and national leagues.

“The ecosystem is fragile. We have to be very careful because we depend on each other and it also shows how important football is for people, for fans, because we always say football is about players and football is about fans. It’s not about us football administrators and we shouldn’t think we are the stars of the game.”

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EURO 2020 postponed until 2021

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EURO 2020 has been postponed until the summer of 2021.

The Norwegian FA first confirmed the news on their social media accounts as the tournament will now be played from 11 June to 11 July 2021.

UEFA held a videoconference on Tuesday, to which they invited their 55 member associations, the boards of the European Club Association and the European Leagues and a rep from FIFPro.

With Europe now the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, EURO 2020 was due to be held across 12 venues in 12 different countries in a special anniversary edition of the tournament.

“The health of fans, staff and players has to be the number one priority. There was a real spirit of co-operation with everyone realizing they had to sacrifice something. Moving EURO 2020 comes at a huge cost to UEFA but we will do our best to make sure our funding to grassroots projects across our 55 members associations is not affected. Purpose over profit has been our guiding principle,” UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said.

A further statement from UEFA gave some more details on how things will now be rearranged.

“The move will help all domestic competitions, currently on hold due to the COVID-19 emergency, to be completed. All UEFA competitions and matches (including friendlies) for clubs and national teams for both men and women have been put on hold until further notice. The UEFA EURO 2020 Play-off matches and international friendlies, scheduled for the end of March, will now be played in the international window at the start of June, subject to a review of the situation. A working group has been set up with the participation of leagues and club representatives to examine calendar solutions that would allow for the completion of the current season and any other consequence of the decisions made today.”

After making the decision on EURO 2020, they are also expected to condense both the UEFA Champions League and Europa League and announce the plans for that on Tuesday.

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Southgate: Smalling could be recalled for Euro 2020

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Chris Smalling has been a revelation for AS Roma this season, and the England National Team manager has taken notice.

With Smalling back to playing some of the best soccer of his career, Gareth Southgate said in an interview with The Guardian that Smalling could be in contention for a return to the England National Team. Smalling was unceremoniously dropped from the Three Lions in 2017 in the middle of World Cup 2018 qualification, but he’s had a renaissance since moving to Italy from Manchester United last summer.

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“I think he’s done well in Italy,” Southgate said. “He’s playing at another big club. He was obviously playing at a big club before. We’re watching everybody because we’ve got to make sure we make the right decision. I’ve never ruled anybody out. I think that would be wrong.”

Playing in a slower, yet more tactical and techncal league, has helped the quick centerback stand out. What’s also helped him, Smalling revealed in previous interviews since coming to Roma, was his ease at maintaining a vegan diet, which has given him new life, and perhaps another England National Team call-up. Smalling has made 21 starts this season in Serie A, recording six clean sheets and two goals.

Smalling’s success this season comes at a great time for him personally, in terms of the national team. Southgate has a crisis on his hands in central defense. John Stones is hardly playing (12 Premier League appearances so far), while Harry Maguire hasn’t had the same kind of impact at Manchester United that he appeared to have while at Leicester City.

Of most recent call-ups, only Fikayo Timori (hasn’t played in the Premier League since the turn of the year) and Tyrone Mings, he of two total caps, fit that position. And if Eric Dier is facing a suspension from the FA, that could keep him out of the Three Lions for Euro 2020. Suddenly, Southgate must look at former players he once cast out for options.

In addition to Smalling, if Joe Gomez would be fit, he’d be a decent option to pair with Maguire, but you’d like to Smalling either starting or at least in the squad to provide some insurance.

Kane eyeing late-season return, will ‘definitely be at EURO 2020’

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Harry Kane is eyeing a return from a torn hamstring at the tail end of the Premier League season to prove his fitness and claim his place in the England team for this summer’s 2020 European Championship.

[ MORE: Coronavirus concerns postpone Juventus-Milan cup semifinal ]

Kane spoke on Tuesday for the first time in weeks and provided a first-person update on his road to recovery after suffering the injury on New Year’s Day. He is eager to get back and help his striker-less club side, with the added benefit of also proving to England manager Gareth Southgate that he can be an asset this summer — quotes from Sky Sports:

“In my head, I am definitely at the Euros. Unless something pretty drastic happens between now and then, I’ll be there.

“I’m still not back training with the first team, but I’m working hard in the gym, I’m getting stronger all the time.

“We’re talking a few more weeks, and I’ll be playing again. I don’t want to make a prediction for which game I might be back, but I am hoping somewhere between the start and the middle of April.”

Spurs boss Jose Mourinho revealed last week that Kane could return to first-team action for the final “three, four or five” weeks of the season. Kane has been out for more than two months now, and Spurs are also without Son Heung-min for the foreseeable future due to a broken arm. Mourinho hinted the South Korean could also return before the end of the season, but he was far less committal on that matter.