England v Italy: Sheffield United boss Slavisa Jokanovic on who will be crowned Euro 2020 champions and "defending" his new club's crest
He admitted his priority is “defending the Sheffield United crest” rather than predicting whether England or Italy will be crowned European Champions this evening.
But Slavisa Jokanovic did confirm he will be watching the game with his squad this evening. And that, when they gather in front of the television at their training base in Estepona, not everyone there will be cheering on the Three Lions.
“I played in England for many years, so I hope they will win but that will get me into trouble with Marco,” said Jokanovic, the former Yugoslavia and Chelsea midfielder, referring to United’s new head of medical services Marco Cesarini. “He will probably have to watch the game in another room on his own.
“I always like to watch important games. I was at the Champions League final (between Chelsea and Manchester City) a month or so ago and always like to see them, because you can learn a lot.
“Of course, my job and my mind is on defending the Sheffield United crest. That is my job. So that is really the only thing I am thinking about right now.
“But for some years I was at Chelsea and I enjoyed being a part of the club and keeping up with these types of games.”
Jokanovic declined numerous invitations to give his thoughts on the likely outcome of the game at Wembley; smiling and then laughing as The Star tried to pin him down on the subject during a Zoom call from United’s team hotel last night.
“Two very good teams, clearly two of the best in Europe right now,” he eventually offered. “That is all I am saying. I think it will be close because of that.
"If you come this far, you know how good they are. I’ll be watching and trying to learn something from the game. That’s something, like I say, I enjoy doing and believe it’s important to do as well. Because these are elite teams.”
United goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale is a member of the England squad set to face the Italians. Speaking before Saturday’s friendly against Europa Point, midfielder Oliver Norwood acknowledged he hopes England will prevail. However, after watching last week’s semi-final victory over Denmark, Norwood joked that not all of Ramsdale’s colleagues will be delighted to see him return with a winners’ medal.
“Seriously, we all want to see Rammers do well, we all want the best for him,” Norwood said. “But I’m not going to pretend there weren’t a few lads cheering when Denmark scored and went in front the other night. I think we all know who they are!”
“I’ve been to the Euro;s and it was one of the best footballing experiences of my life,” Norwood, capped 57 times by Northern Ireland, added. “I’m not sure the Irish and Scottish lads here are going to be cheering on England. But they all want the best for Rammers too and are pleased to see him doing so well and enjoying himself - don’t worry about that.”