Andros Townsend writes in the Mirror (Image: Stephen Pond)
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I can't stress enough how important it will be for England to kick off their first European Championship game on Sunday with cheers ringing in their ears at Wembley Stadium.
If we want to recreate the spirit of the World Cup three years ago it will give our guys – some of whom are playing in their first major tournament – a massive boost.
I’ll be in the stadium working for ITV and when that first whistle goes and the players take the knee I’ll be applauding and cheering for them.
I’d urge you to do the same. If you’re lucky enough to be at the stadium and there is someone near you booing – clap, cheer. Drown them out.
Listen, I’ve played with Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling and Kyle Walker. Sterling was the first player of his generation to come out and challenge the way that black players were perceived in the media.
What is your view? Have your say in the comment section
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Rashford has been magnificent in the way that he has changed government policy to feed the nation’s kids.
All of the players in that England dressing room have the strength of character to fight through adversity. They shouldn’t experience that adversity here, though. Not from their own supporters. Ten to fifteen years ago, racism here was such a problem that the people booing would probably have been allowed to win.
I’d like to think that isn’t the case any more.
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The opposition to the knee has been ongoing for a year now.
At the start people against it could make the excuse that it looked as though the players were endorsing a political group. Not any more.
In fact, there are only so many times you can say that you are actually asking for black lives to matter before you reach the conclusion that the people booing have ulterior motives.
So let’s focus on the players hoping to make us proud on Sunday.
Imagine how they’ll feel hearing a huge cheer when they take the knee. It will give them a massive shot of confidence – and get our European Championship campaign off to a flying start.