Ahead of England’s World Cup qualifier against Andorra today, Mason Mount and Reece James have been discussing their pride at helping the Three Lions reach the final of Euro 2020 earlier this year.
During the first international break since that tournament, those two Blues are both back in the England squad and Mount set up the opening goal as they continued their impressive performances by winning 4-0 away in Hungary.
That result leaves the Three Lions five points clear at the top of their qualifying group for next year’s World Cup in Qatar, ahead of today’s fixture against Andorra at Wembley, but their run to the Euros final is still fresh in the players’ minds, even if there is some lingering regret they couldn’t lift the trophy after losing the final to Italy on penalties.
‘Obviously it didn’t end the way we wanted it to end,’ said Mount. ‘We are winners, we are hungry to win, so we are obviously disappointed, but if you look at what we achieved, there were some big achievements that we have never seen before in this country in terms of the Euros.
‘We created some big, historic moments and to be able to share it with the fans and to be with this group, it was a special time, to look back on that time and really know that we did a lot of people proud.’
However, the midfielder isn’t satisfied with what he has achieved with the national team yet, and after that taste of success is eager to take the next step and add silverware at that level to the trophies he has already won with Chelsea.
‘We gained a lot of valuable experience going forward. There is immense pride in the fact we created history and we know that we can do big things with this team. To push on even more now, to want to go that extra yard, to get that one more. We finished fourth in the World Cup, third in the Nations League and second in the Euros, so we are on a good path and going in the right direction. We just need to go that one step further.’
James echoed Mount’s comments about the incredible experience of representing his country in a major international tournament, especially with all but one of England’s games being played on home soil in front of their own fans.
‘The whole atmosphere from the get-go and through the whole tournament was unbelievable,’ he added. ‘The support and having the fans back in the stadium and the atmosphere around the camp was just unreal.’
With fierce competition for places at right-back, James had to be more patient for opportunities than his Blues team-mate during the Euros, although he did play the full 90 minutes of the draw with neighbours Scotland in the group stage, and believes the togetherness throughout the squad, whether playing or not, was an important factor.
‘As a football player, you want to do your job and play and when you’re not playing as much as you’d like it’s always disappointing and hard to take, but you can’t let it affect you or the other players. You have to be a good team player you never know when you will get your chance and be called upon.
‘There were some players that didn’t play at all, but how they carried themselves and the atmosphere around the place, everyone wanted the best for each other and everyone wanted to win. We put rivalry aside and we were one team and all had the goal of winning the trophy. It wasn’t possible this year but I’m sure we will be back.’