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‘Swear on my kid’s life…’: Ollie Watkins reveals he predicted England’s stunning winner in Euro 2024 semifinal | Football News

Jul 11, 2024 07:21 AM IST

Ollie Watkins crushed Dutch hopes in the semifinal by scoring the winner in stoppage time and helping England reach a second consecutive Euro final.

Most at Dortmund’s Westfallenstadion – whether it be fans, players or coaching staff – would have been steeling their minds up for extra-time and possibly penalties when England’s Ollie Watkins sealed the deal for his side against the Netherlands in the semifinal of the 2024 European Championship. Watkins slotted the winner past Dutch goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen to the far corner from a tight angle in stoppage time to seal a 2-1 win for England.

Ollie Watkins scored in the first minute of stoppage time.(AFP)
Ollie Watkins scored in the first minute of stoppage time.(AFP)

“Unbelievable. I’ve been waiting for that moment for weeks, for weeks,” Watkins said after the game. “It’s taken a lot of hard work to get to where I am today, and grateful that I got the opportunity and I’ve grabbed it with both hands and I’m delighted.

Watkins said that he had predicted the goal almost exactly as it happened to teammate Cole Palmer before the match. “I swear on my life and my kid’s life. I said to Cole Palmer, ‘We’re coming on today and you’re going to set me up,’ and that’s why I was so happy with Coley.

“I knew as soon as he got the ball he was going to play me and you’ve got to be greedy, touch and finish and when I’ve seen it go in the bottom corner, it’s the best feeling ever.”

Having come on for captain Harry Kane, who had arguably his game of the tournament like a number of his teammates, Watkins received a pass from fellow substitute Palmer with his back to goal in the first minute of stoppage time. The Aston Villa striker turned and fired low into the far corner to leave the Netherlands completely stunned.

‘Watkins has trained for his moment’

It meant that England were through to a second consecutive Euro final despite the tidal wave of criticism that came their way in the group stage due to their defensive style of play despite possessing some of the best attacking talent in the world. England are looking to lift their first major trophy since the 1966 World Cup and they had lost at home to Italy in the final of the 2022 European Championship.

Manager Gareth Southgate, who was the focus of the criticism, hailed his players’ “resilience and character” after the match. “It shows the more modern England way but also the resilience and character of the group,” Southgate said after the match. “Ollie Watkins has trained like that every day. He has trained for his moment no matter how frustrated. [The players] had each others’ back, they bonded so well and tonight it was an example of that.”

England will be facing a formidable Spain in the final. Southgate admitted that it will be a challenge for them to even maintain meaningful possession. “We will have to get the ball off them first,” Southgate said of their next opponents. “It is not as simple as us having the ball and making them run. We have to be exceptional with the ball and without it. They have been the best team.”

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