Champions League winner Reece James says England have ‘so many great players who have won major honours’ that the Three Lions may have their best shot at success since 1966
Reece James believes football could come home this summer, with the right-back saying England probably have the best chance of winning a major tournament since 1966.
The excitement is mounting ahead of the Euro 2020 group opener against Croatia at Wembley, where the Three Lions hope to return to play the 11th July final under the arch.
The men of Gareth Southgate have the chance to follow in the footsteps of the 1966 World Cup heroes by lifting homegrown silverware this summer – an opportunity Chelsea right-back James didn’t pass up.
Reece James says England can go all out in this summer’s Euros
“I think this is probably the best chance we’ve ever had to achieve something this big in the tournament,” said the 21-year-old.
“We have so many great players and so many players who have won titles and won many major accolades.
“I think we definitely have a team that is good enough to give it their all in this tournament and I don’t see why we couldn’t.”
James enters the tournament on the back of his striking display in Chelsea’s Champions League final triumph against Premier League winners Manchester City.
James enters the European Championship on the back of his striking display in the Champions League final
“I didn’t expect to win so young,” he said. “There are so many great players who haven’t had a chance to win. To win it so young I am overjoyed and grateful.
“I think winning the Champions League final and playing against such a high quality team and going home with the win will boost one’s confidence, but if you do it against the Premier League champions you get also a boost.
“When you come here, you have to distance yourself from the rivalry between clubs.
“We had Manchester City in the final, but when we come here we are a collective team. We put it aside. We are one team here and we have to work together.’
Excitement is mounting ahead of Sunday’s Euro 2020 group opener against Croatia
Chelsea teammates Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell join James in the England squad after starring in Porto.
The trio have all had to prove themselves to Blues boss Thomas Tuchel after playing an important role under predecessor Frank Lampard.
“At the start of the season we had Frank Lampard and I was very lucky to play most games under him, but when our new manager came along, our playing style and formation changed,” he said.
“The first few games I was outside the team. That was quite difficult to deal with. I had to adapt and learn.
“It’s hard when a new manager comes in mid-season, I’ve never had it before. It was a big learning curve.’
Gareth Southgate’s men have the chance to emulate the heroes of the 1966 World Cup
James’ form under Lampard saw him win the first of six caps against Wales in October.
The 21-year-old, who was deployed at right-back for his first four international appearances, played just as right-back as England moved to a back-four in March.
James’ next cap could come in a third different position, with the versatile Chelsea graduate capable of playing as a centre-back.
“I played right-back in the middle of the academy many times so the position was not new to me,” said James as Southgate considered playing with a three or a four against Croatia.
“The position is very different from a fullback. You’re a defender, you can’t really move forward. As a defender, you don’t have the license to continue and participate in attacks.
“When you defend on the right side of a three, you’re limited to where you can go and what you can do.”