Gareth Southgate issued a rallying cry for the nation on Friday night, insisting his players alone could not be expected to lift the country’s mood after 15 months of a pandemic.
Ahead of England’s Euro 2020 quarter final with Ukraine in Rome on Saturday night, the Three Lions’ manager said his young team were giving the rest of England the chance to “enjoy the ride” in the wake of the misery caused by Covid-19.
His cri de coeur was echoed by Britain’s pub trade, which urged supporters to pack out their local bars to rescue a beleaguered industry.
Thousands of fans are also expected to attend socially distanced fanzones set up in cities around the country, while about 2,000 supporters, made up of English expats living in mainland Europe, are expected to travel to the Italian capital with tickets for the game.
Asked if his team’s victory over Germany had symbolised new hope, Southgate said: “We have the opportunity to give people special days, and Tuesday was a special day and one that, frankly, everybody needed.
“I don’t think that burden can sit entirely with a group of young players. Other people are going to have to help us out at some point, but we’ve got a great chance to allow people to enjoy the ride.”
Pick your England team to face Ukraine
The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) estimated that pubs could lose as much as £5 million in sales because of social distancing and drinkers booking several pubs at once and attending only one.
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the BBPA, said: “I urge England fans to support the team – and our pubs – by watching the game at their local where they can. With England fans’ support, we hope that pubs will sell six million pints during the game itself.
“While that is far less than it would have been if restrictions were lifted, our pubs need all the support they can get right now.”
One pub, the Broughton Hungry Horse in Milton Keynes, renamed itself It’s Coming Rome ahead of the game.
For fans, it will be the closest they get to the Italian capital. Covid rules require supporters travelling from Britain to undergo five days of quarantine, making it illegal for fans who left after the win against Germany to attend.
Andrea Costa, Italian under-secretary of state for health, repeated on Friday that any person arriving from Britain would face five days of quarantine.
“That will not allow fans who have left over the last couple of days to come and see the match,” he said. “We’ll be vigilant on this quarantine, we’re not talking about a big number so the checks will not be difficult.”