Gary Lineker challenges England to make Euro 2020 final at Wembley their goal

Former international star Gary Lineker says England should target the Euro 2020 final as he predicts a bright future for the Three Lions.

The Match of the Day presenter feels there is an abundance of young talent coming through, that should look to compete in the Wembley showpiece. 

Speaking to MM at a Comic Relief charity event, Lineker stressed his belief that youth development is essential to success on the international stage. 

“It’s all about the development of young talent and we’re starting to get it right – it’s taken us a long time of playing catch up,” he said.

“We’re beginning to see a real nucleus of emerging talent, they won’t all make it at international level but I think the future is a lot brighter.

“If a number of them do make it we’ll have the sufficient number of world class players that you require to genuinely challenge.

“Two years might be a bit soon but four years certainly and in six years time the European held tournament’s final is at Wembley.”




Lineker is echoing the sentiments of FA chairman Greg Dyke, who set the national team the goal of winning the contentious 2022 World Cup in Qatar. 

While six or eight years are certainly a long time in football, the majority of the current England squad should then be at their peak.

With an average age of just over 25 heading into the Euro 2016 qualifiers against San Marino this Thursday and Estonia, the Euro 2020 crown is a realistic goal.

The likes of Luke Shaw, Calum Chambers, Carl Jenkinson and Jack Butland are currently with the under-21 set-up – but all have senior caps too.

Daniel Sturridge, 25, and 20-year-old Ross Barkley will miss out through injury but Lineker is backing them both to do well in future tournaments. 

“I think we’ve got a real bunch of top talent coming through – the likes of Chambers, John Stones and Shaw are good young defenders,” said the 53-year-old.

“Midfield players like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere, Adam Lallana and Barkley – there is lots of real talent.

“Upfront as well we’ve got Raheem Sterling, he’s a brilliant little player and Sturridge is a proper goal scorer,” he added.

Sturridge came through the famed Manchester City academy where former Youth Academy director Jim Cassell developed several full England internationals for the Blues. 

Shaun Wright-Phillips, Joey Barton and Micah Richards have all worn the Three Lions shirt and Richards, aged just 26, may well build on his 13 caps. 

In recent times the champions have come under fire for having a lack of ‘home-grown’ talent with only Joe Hart and James Milner currently in the England fold. 

With the departure of established England stars – Joleon Lescott, Gareth Barry and Adam Johnson – City have replaced them with a raft of foreign superstars at the Etihad. 

But Lineker feels that it is wrong to single out the Citizens for criticism and that Premier League clubs are trying to blood more English talent.

“Top clubs not having English players has been an issue for years, it’s not just Manchester City, we just haven’t produced enough,” said the former Barcelona striker.

“That is beginning to change which is a good thing and even Arsenal have a few English players now which they haven’t had for donkey’s years.

“Hopefully the young players will get the opportunities like they’re having at Arsenal and Liverpool and will continue to improve because of that,” he added. 

Manchester United were renowned for developing young English players during the Sir Alex Ferguson era, in particular the much celebrated class of ’92.




However under Dutchman Louis van Gaal, academy graduates Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley have both been forced to move away from Old Trafford in the search of regular football. 

While it is perhaps an overstatement to say that the Red Devils have shifted their policy entirely, the arrival of Radamel Falcao certainly signalled the beginning of the end for Welbeck.

Even talismanic captain Wayne Rooney, who is now England skipper too, was Everton born and bred before becoming the world’s most expensive teenager in back 2004.

Rooney currently has seven fewer England goals than Lineker and the 1986 World Cup Golden Boot winner says it’s only a matter of time until his record is surpassed. 

“Almost certainly Rooney will pass my total and become the record goalscorer for England. He’s an excellent footballer so I hope he beats all the records,” he concluded. 

Main image courtesy of BBC via YouTube, with thanks.

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