Gareth Southgate hopes England build on ‘belief’ after slow Euro 2024 start

Gareth Southgate is confident England can build on their “belief” at Euro 2024 and enjoy a summer to remember in a similar way to 1990 and 1996.

The Euro 2020 runners-up were seconds away from exiting this edition in humiliating fashion on Sunday, only to squeak past Slovakia and into a fourth successive major quarter-final under Southgate.

Jude Bellingham, who turned 21 the day before the last-16 clash, came to the rescue with a 95th-minute overhead kick against their well-drilled opponents before Harry Kane sealed a 2-1 extra-time win.

A European Championship quarter-final clash with Switzerland on Saturday is the reward for an England side looking to kick on after facing criticism and riding their luck in Germany.

“There’s no question it will give the whole group belief,” Southgate said of Sunday’s late turnaround against Slovakia.

“The boys that came on and contributed had a big impact on what we were doing – the togetherness and the spirit that you need.

“Everybody now, 30 years on, looks back at (Euro) 96, that I played in, in a different way to how it was at the time.

“We were bang average against Switzerland, we were the same against Scotland. Scotland missed a penalty at 1-0. Spain should have beaten us in a 0-0 draw.

“(The World Cup in) 1990 was similar, so you do go through these moments in tournaments.

“We know we should be better than we’ve been but we’ve ended up with a lot of young players in important positions and trying to solve problems right the way through the four weeks of the camp.

“But the standout is the way the players are dealing with it. Their togetherness, their spirit.

“You could see the boys that went on but also the boys that came off and the way that they were up and supporting the group. So that is giving us a chance.”

England showed resilience through tough moments to reach the Euro 96 semi-finals, where Southgate’s failure from the spot proved costly in a shoot-out loss to Germany.

Six years earlier they had lost in the same manner at the same stage, but the 1990 World Cup is remembered fondly having been sparked into life by David Platt’s 119th-minute last-16 winner against Belgium.

That strike acted as a spark for Sir Bobby Robson’s side in Italy and there were shades of the outrageous volley in the timing and technique of Bellingham’s overhead equaliser in Gelsenkirchen.

Put to him that Platt’s goal ignited something, he said: “Yeah, of course. I don’t know what to think at the moment because I know how everything will have been pitched at 99 minutes or however long we were.

“And I know that we’ve got to be better and we’ve got a very tough team to prepare for, so I’m already onto that. But I am so proud of the players.”

Southgate knows England now have to raise their game if they are to stand a chance of beating “outstanding” Switzerland in what will be a “big tactical challenge”.

Slovakia are 45th in FIFA world rankings whereas the Swiss are 19th and knocked out holders Italy in the round of 16, having finished runners-up to hosts Germany in Group A.

“I think they’re excellent,” Southgate said of Saturday’s opponents in Dusseldorf. “I’ve thought that for a few years, really.

“They have had some consistency in what they do for a long time. Their system is difficult to press. They’ve got good rotation.

“Once they’ve been ahead they’ve been really difficult to break down so they are a very good side as they showed against Germany and as they showed against Italy.”