Euro 2012: ‘Play for fun’ to beat Italy, Vaughan tells England.

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FORMER England cricket captain Michael Vaughan has urged England’s Euro 2012 quarter-final squad to ‘play for fun’ to beat Italy tomorrow.

Vaughan, who skippered England to Ashes victory in 2005, believes Roy Hodgson’s men need to play with the freedom they enjoyed as teenagers to progress.

“I think England players have taken it all too seriously and they have for a long time, but I see signs now that they are enjoying playing again,” said Wednesdayite and keen England fan Vaughan.

“It’s a game of football. You have to want to play like you did when you were 13 and 14 years old. You have to wake up in the morning excited at the prospect of playing. That’s when you play your best.

“Once players start earning money and have the press to think about they take it and themselves a bit too seriously. Then it gets hard.”

Vaughan, aged 37 and part of the BBC’s Test Match Special team, believes Roy Hodgson has made a huge difference. “Fabio Capello tried to be a strict disciplinarian but the English mentality is not the Italian mentality. The analytical stuff should be done by the manager and coaches. Players just need to know what they are doing,” he said.

“I like the way Hodgson is with the players. Gary Neville’s role in all this shouldn’t be underestimated either. He is a big part of the turnaround with his fantastic experience, positive attitude and enthusiasm. He is down to earth and can relate to the players.”

Vaughan believes England may fall short of winning the tournament, but does see a brighter future. “The Germans and Spain might be a bit too good but Chelsea did it in the Champions League,” he said.

“Anything can happen when the spirit is right.”