Jordan Henderson salutes Englands band of brothers as Three Lions dream of winning Euros

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Of all the magic tricks England have pulled off at these Euros, fusing themselves into a genuine band of brothers has been one of the most impressive. Keeping 26 footballers used to being first choice at their clubs content over the course of a month when a maximum of 18 – or 19 if a game goes to extra time – can take the field is impossible.

Yet despite the personal disappointments of those left on the periphery – five members of the squad have not kicked a ball in anger and are unlikely to do so now – the bigger picture has managed to prevail.

Club loyalties have been parked and egos left at the St George’s Park barriers and all the outward signs are that England are heading for the semi-final a unified force.

That is no illusion according to Jordan Henderson.

“It’s not only on the pitch,” said Henderson. “The most important part is the things you don’t see behind the scenes with the lads that are not playing as much but who are pushing the lads that are playing, supporting the lads around the dressing room and ready if called upon.

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“We’ve got a great togetherness and you need that if you are going to be successful. I think that’s been really special this time around.

“You see the celebrations when we score the goals – the whole bench is up. That makes the difference on the pitch.”

Henderson’s goal against Ukraine – his first in 62 internationals for England – was a case in point.

“I loved some of the reaction on the bench when Hendo scored because you could see the younger players were totally delighted for him. There was a lovely moment with Jude (Bellingham),” said England manager Gareth Southgate.

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England vs Ukraine: Fans celebrate in London's Trafalgar Square

Henderson enjoyed it too.

“It was a really special moment. I have waited a long time. I suppose to get it in the quarter-final of a European Championship isn’t a bad place to get it,” he said.

The Liverpool captain is one of a senior coterie of players Southgate describes as his “tribal elders”, a morale manager who takes it upon himself to take time out with the three players who miss out of each match-day squad completely.

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“Mentally that can be really difficult, especially when you are away for a long time. I try to take as much responsibility as possible to try to make those players feel a part of it,” said Henderson.

The 31-year-old is no longer a starter having been overtaken by Kalvin Phillips during his long injury absence leading into the tournament but in terms of the cohesion that is proving so critical, he remains an integral figure to the squad.

“He’s readily accepted that this was going to be a difficult and different challenge but he’s totally thrown himself into it,” said Southgate.

“When I talked to him a few weeks ahead of the first training camp we talked through this scenario and he was adamant he just wanted to be a part of it and wanted to contribute in any way he could.

“It’s brilliant for him that he’s had a moment like Saturday night. He’s been crucial around the camp as to what we’re doing.”

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