England's top guns have been ordered to complete Mission Impossible tonight… by Hollywood megastar Tom Cruise.
The Three Lions were last week treated to an exclusive, advance viewing of Cruise's latest, yet-to-be-released big-screen blockbuster.
And that included a personal call from the Tinsel Town actor – and a message to ‘bring football home’ with victory over Italy in the European Championship final.
England boss Gareth Southgate revealed: “They were very fortunate. They had a preview of a film that's due out further down the line.
“And they had Tom dial in to speak to them, which I’d imagine was quite surreal. I was in a meeting watching videos of Italy… but that's another story.
“They all thoroughly enjoyed the experience and, yes, they've had a good week… Ed Sheeran and Tom Cruise – the life of an England footballer."
With the chance to wipe our 55 years of hurt, nobody need tell Southgate how close they are to re-writing history and becoming the first England side to win silverware since 1966.
But Southgate, who led England to the World Cup semis in 2018, is under no illusion as to the fierce scrap looming this evening.
Italy are unbeaten in 35 games under former-Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini, ensuring the Three Lions face their stiffest battle yet of the summer.
Ex-Three Lions defender Southgate, a semi-finalist at Euro 96, admitted: “Italian teams have always been well coached. They’re always disciplined.
“They’re meticulous in the way they prepare and I know, from talking to people who work with Roberto, that will be the case with this team.
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“They’ve had an incredible run – three draws in 30, never mind any defeats. It’s remarkable for any team. It tells us the size of the task.
“It means we’ve got to prepare extremely thoroughly. We can’t just roll out and think we’re going to beat a team like that without giving it huge thought, preparation and focus.
“But it’s a great challenge.”
One factor in the hosts’ favour will be the electric atmosphere generated by 65,000 mostly English supporters.
Harry Kane and Co are changing the way the national side is viewed by everyone on these shores.
And Southgate is convinced that has been a massive boost during a pulsating tournament, especially when beating Germany and Denmark in the last eight and last four, respectively.
That feeling of a united one love inside Wembley is unprecedented, according to Southgate.
He went on: “It's felt quite unique. Throughout the knock-out phase the support has been phenomenal and it makes a huge difference .
“It’s not an experience we’ve had for a long time. There’ve been periods when Wembley has been a struggle.
"My first year in charge, there were paper aeroplanes being thrown and a total disconnect.
“It was hard to get a head of steam up and get that backing – which is why I'm so pleased the players are experiencing something like this.
“They’re feeling the warmth, that connection – and that energy makes it a huge advantage being at home.
“The players have done an amazing job in the way they have played and the results – but also in how they've represented themselves.
“We've wanted the fans to be part of it because they're important and people have recognised and appreciated this.”
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