England’s midfielder, Declan Rice, not an avid rugby fan, found himself captivated by the dramatic World Cup quarter-finals over the weekend, particularly New Zealand’s epic victory against Ireland. The nail-biting matches unfolded as Rice and his teammates stayed at Spurs Lodge to prepare for the Euro 2024 qualifier against Italy at Wembley, which England won 3-1, securing their place in the finals in Germany next summer.
Rice drew parallels between the world of football and rugby, recognizing the shared mindset of overcoming challenges and pushing to achieve victory. New Zealand’s remarkable defensive stand in the face of relentless pressure resonated with him as a symbol of the unwavering determination required to win at the highest level.
Gareth Southgate has led England’s football team through considerable obstacles under his leadership, such as historic wins against Spain and Italy away. But while England have overcome various hurdles – including historic victories away versus both Spain and Italy away – they still have not secured major tournament wins, as evidenced by their defeat to France at the 2022 World Cup quarter-finals. Southgate stresses that international football ultimately judges teams by their tournament performances.
Rice believes that England possesses the talent necessary for success, but it’s the mindset and drive to be the best that must be honed. He draws inspiration from rugby’s lessons, where teams leave everything on the field to secure victory.
Gareth Southgate, known for his willingness to adopt principles from other sports, has incorporated elements of the All Blacks’ philosophy into the England team. They have even enlisted the expertise of Kiwi performance coach Owen Eastwood, who instills core principles and a winning mentality. Rice emphasizes that the All Blacks’ “no dickheads” policy has also resonated within the England football camp, fostering a cohesive and positive team atmosphere.
Looking ahead to the Euro 2024 tournament, England views France as the team to beat. The culture and spirit that Southgate has instilled, coupled with the rising confidence of key players like Rice, Harry Kane, and Jude Bellingham, makes England a formidable force. Additionally, the team’s collective growth through shared experiences, both positive and negative, has contributed to their newfound conviction.
Declan Rice ends by stressing the team’s determination to make history and win a major tournament on foreign soil, something no English team has managed since 1890. They have made great strides forward since losing in the Euro final two years ago – their game management skills and ability to see matches out are clear signs of improvement; showing they’re prepared both mentally and physically for international play.
Southgate aims to win the final qualifying ties next month to secure top-seed status for the group draw, emphasizing that the journey has gone far beyond just winning the qualifying group. England is on the cusp of something significant, and their sights are firmly set on success in Germany next summer.