Jordan Henderson called for England to ensure they have “no regrets” when the final whistle blows on their Euro 2020 last-16 clash with Germany.
The Three Lions’ reward for winning their group is a knockout game against their old rivals at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday with a place in the quarter-finals at stake.
Unsurprisingly, the draw has prompted fans to reminisce about past meetings between the sides, including the 1966 World Cup final and the last 16 of the same tournament in 2010.
But while Henderson acknowledged the “special” nature of the fixture, he wants England to do more than just relish the occasion.
He said: “It’s a special game for the players, for fans, for everyone, for the neutrals watching. It’s a big game and that’s what you want to be playing in these tournaments, so it’s very exciting.
“Everybody will be looking forward to it and, for the players, we have to stay focused and make sure we give everything on the pitch and have no regrets.
“It’s exciting, it’s a huge game and one that we’ll be looking forward to. We knew whatever team we faced it was going to be a big challenge and Germany will certainly be that, so we need to prepare well, be ready for next week and give everything.
“They are still a very good side. Look at the players they’ve got, quality all over the pitch. It’s going to be a very tough test.
“In games like this, it’s not necessarily about form, it’s about whoever is better on the night; whoeever puts the better performance in is going to have more chance of winning and we need to make sure we’re 100 per cent ready, and I’m sure we will be.”
The sides’ previous meeting in the knockout stages of a European Championship came when the tournament was hosted by England in 1996.
On that occasion, Germany progressed to the final courtesy of a penalty shootout that featured a miss from now Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate.
Henderson insisted that tournament disappointment has not been discussed by the current squad but revealed that penalty practice is taking place in preparation for a shootout.
He added: “No, we haven’t spoken about it and I’m not sure we will, either. A lot of talk will be on penalties but, for us, being in a penalty shootout not so long ago and we practice penalties all the time, it’s just part and parcel of football in tournaments.
“We try to do it seriously because you want to practice properly, the whole process. It’s important you do it properly and you are clear in your mind if you do need to take a penalty.
“Overcoming a penalty shoot-out in the World Cup was a big thing mentally for everyone, so I do think we’ve improved with that over the last few years.
“That’s going to be a big thing on Tuesday. In football or in any sport, mental strength is a huge part of it. I feel we’ve got a lot of players in the squad who are very mentally strong and that’s going to be important.”
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