Euro 2020: John Stones is still dreaming as England prepare for Italy at Wembley in historic final
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The Three Lions saw off Denmark on Wednesday to book an historic decider against the Azzurri for one of the most eagerly-anticipated football matches on English soil in generations.
Wembley was bouncing for the semi-final and Sunday’s clash will fire up an even more incredible atmosphere with over 60,000 expected under the arches.
For Penistone lad Stones it has provided an occasion that he and his youthful team mates, while hugely deserving of their place, have found almost unfathomable.
“It’s huge, with it being at Wembley as well it’s even more special – something we could have only dreamt of at the start of the tournament,” he said of England’s first major final since 1966.
“We’ve got this far now and we’ve grown throughout the tournament and not put too much pressure on ourselves. We’ve overcome some tough tests over the last few years.
“We’ve learned a lot of things and gained a lot of experience and that’s got us to where we are on Sunday. It’s a massive occasion.”
Stones admitted he can’t even contemplate how he will feel if England are to triumph on home soil.
“I daren’t think!" he added.
“From my personal perspective it’s approaching the game how we have every other one in this tournament, or at club level, and giving everything.
“From outside what I’ve been hearing is the England team, whoever plays or contributes, has given everything for that shirt in the past few years.
“We all love the England team, growing up as fans, being able to play for them now, we absolutely cherish it.”
Stones is expected to line up alongside Sheffield’s Harry Maguire and Kyle Walker in a South Yorkshire-heavy defence that has been the heartbeat of the side on their way to the final.
The defender continued: “It’s a proud moment, hopefully to get to be in the starting XI and experience what we’ve experienced already. It’s a special occasion.
“The support is deeply appreciated by the players and we hope we do them proud on Sunday.”