England’s Euro Final Celebration: Neville and Wright Ecstatic, Keane Unimpressed

England’s Euro Final Celebration: Neville and Wright Ecstatic, Keane Unimpressed

Gary Neville and Ian Wright were unable to contain their excitement as Ollie Watkins booked England’s spot in Sunday’s Euro 2024 final against Spain. 

The Aston Villa striker was brought on as a late substitute by Gareth Southgate as England struggled to break their 1-1 deadlock with the Netherlands in the second-half. 

Xavi Simons had opened the scoring Ronald Koeman’s side after just seven minutes with a superb strike which proved too much for Jordan Pickford to keep out, but Harry Kane was able to step up and score from the spot after England were handed a somewhat contentious penalty 11 minutes later. 

But still chasing a result in normal time, Southgate rolled the dice and brought on Watkins and Chelsea starlet Cole Palmer. 

The formern Manchester City academy graduate set up Watkins’ winner with a pinpoint-accurate pass, which the Villa man duly buried in the bottom corner – prompting wild celebrations from Neville and Wright in the ITV studio. 

Roy Keane (background centre) opted not to join in with Ian Wright (foreground) and Gary Neville’s (centre) celebrations

The two former England internationals ran riot in the ITV studio when Ollie Watkins scored

The two former England internationals ran riot in the ITV studio when Ollie Watkins scored

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But as Neville, Wright, and Mark Pougatch jumped up and down, screamed and applauded Watkins’ 90th-minute shot, Roy Keane cut a removed figure on the periphery. 

The former Republic of Ireland international instead turned away from the screen and took a moment to contemplate the turn of events. 

 

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After being named Player of the Match, Watkins revealed that he had prophesised netting the matchwinner earlier in the day in conversation with Palmer. 

‘I swear on my life, I swear on my kids’ life, I said to Cole Palmer, we’re coming on and you’re going to set me up today,’ Watkins told ITV. 

‘And that’s why I was so happy. I knew as soon as he got the ball he was going to play me and then you’ve got to be greedy: touch and finish.

‘And when I seen it go in the bottom corner… oh my life.

‘I’m lost for words, when you score there’s emotions that come through your body but this is just a different feeling it was like slow motion. I didn’t want to leave the pitch I just wanted to soak it all in. I don’t think I’ve hit a ball that sweet.’

Watkins also discussed his travails featuring in the England squad in Germany, but failing to get minutes as Southgate kept the faith with his favoured starting XI. 

Watkins' immaculately struck effort benefitted from Cole Palmer's pass - which the striker had predicted ahead of their substitutions

Watkins’ immaculately struck effort benefitted from Cole Palmer’s pass – which the striker had predicted ahead of their substitutions

‘I didn’t think I would be doing it in a tournament like that,’ Watkins admitted. ‘I never thought I would be playing in the Euros for England. You can dream but I’m a realist, I take it day by day. 

‘I’ve put in a lot of hard work to get to this point. I’m going to enjoy every moment.

‘Recently I have obviously got a bit frustrated. I don’t like to be on the bench, I have had the best season of my career. A few friends messaged me and said be patient and the amount of people who messaged me tonight saying I would score when I come on was ridiculous.

‘Hopefully they can do the same for the final or give me the lottery numbers!’

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