sport news Euro 2020: The hoodoos England have banished under Gareth Southgate as they ...

sport news Euro 2020: The hoodoos England have banished under Gareth Southgate as they ...
sport news Euro 2020: The hoodoos England have banished under Gareth Southgate as they ...

England for years were just that team that breezed easily through qualifying into a major tournament, reached the quarter-finals and then crashed out on penalties to the first decent side they came up against.

And while that was not strictly the case every two years, it was a stereotypical summary of England at a World Cup or European Championship - and it certainly never got better than that.

However, since Gareth Southgate took charge of the England team, initially as caretaker, in 2016 the remarkable rise has seen one hoodoo banished after the other, including on Wednesday night when they defeated Denmark 2-1 to reach the Euro 2020 final.

England players celebrate during their 2-1 victory over Denmark on Wednesday which secured their place in the final of Sunday's European Championship

England players celebrate during their 2-1 victory over Denmark on Wednesday which secured their place in the final of Sunday's European Championship

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Gareth Southgate celebrates after the game in another significant milestone under his reign

Gareth Southgate celebrates after the game in another significant milestone under his reign

Under Southgate, England have overcome major mental hurdles that have constantly held them back at the vast majority of competitions since winning the World Cup in 1966, with highlights including recording a Euros final, a World Cup semi-final, and a third place in the newly established Nations League.

Here, Sportsmail looks at the significant ghosts Southgate has banished and the hoodoos England have overcome during his reign, as he looks to end their 55-year wait for major silverware in the Euro 2020 final against Italy on Sunday.

Ending the pain of penalties 

There is no doubt that Gareth Southgate's tactical and mental improvement of the the England team started earlier than the 2018 World Cup, but this is when fans saw it for the first time.

As usual England had easily qualified for the tournament in Russia, and in a group with Belgium, Tunisia and Panama they reached the last-16 with a game to spare before losing to Belgium in a dead rubber.

So far, so England - next up was Colombia in the last-16. In another typical England display, they went 1-0 up through a Harry Kane penalty before throwing away the lead in in stoppage time. After no goals in extra-time the match went to England's biggest fear - penalties.

Prior to Southgate's 2016 appointment as manager, England had a dreadful penalty shootout record, including losing in the Euro 96 semi-final where the current Three Lions boss missed

Prior to Southgate's 2016 appointment as manager, England had a dreadful penalty shootout record, including losing in the Euro 96 semi-final where the current Three Lions boss missed

Another shootout defeat to Colombia beckoned before Jordan Pickford saved Carlos Bacca's spot-kick to put England on the brink of victory at the 2018 World Cup

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Another shootout defeat to Colombia beckoned before Jordan Pickford saved Carlos Bacca's spot-kick to put England on the brink of victory at the 2018 World Cup

England's record in shootouts up until this point was dreadful. They had lost six of their seven shootouts dating back to 1990, only defeating Spain in the quarter-final of Euro 96. 

A beaten worn down nation had already conceded defeat, and even the most positive of supporters were staring down the barrel once Jordan Henderson missed the chance to make it 3-3 during the shootout.

But successive Colombia misses sandwiching a Kieran Trippier conversion, left Eric Dier with a chance to earn England a first ever shootout victory at the World Cup.

The Tottenham defender squeezed home his strike and one of England's greatest hoodoos had been banished - as huge celebrations of relief as much as excitement followed.

Almost at a flick of a switch, the mood towards the England team had suddenly turned favourably. If they could actually win a penalty shootout, what else could they do?

Eric Dier then struck the winning penalty kick to send England into a World Cup quarter-final

Eric Dier then struck the winning penalty kick to send England into a World Cup quarter-final

England players celebrate following their first shootout victory since the Euro 96 quarter-final

England players celebrate following their first shootout victory since the Euro 96 quarter-final

Reaching a first World Cup semi-final in 28 years 

After the Colombia success, England then had an excellent chance to reach their first World Cup semi-final since 1990 - where they were denied a final place by West Germany - and just their second since winning the tournament in 1966.

Opportunity knocked as they were favourites to see off Sweden in Samara, Russia. But the Scandinavian side carried a threat having already topped a group featuring Germany.

In addition, all four previous meetings in World Cup competition between England and Sweden had ended in draws, including group stage matches in 2002 and 2006 where Sven Goran Eriksson's men three times threw away leads to draw 1-1 and 2-2 respectively.

So the threat of extra-time and penalties certainly beckoned. However, England enjoyed one of their easiest games of the tournament, with goals in each half from Harry Maguire and Dele Alli ensuring a comfortable 2-0 victory and a semi-final date with Croatia.

Although England would wilt in the last four, going down 2-1 despite taking an early lead through a Kieran Trippier free-kick, England's World Cup was branded a rare form of success given the significant mental hurdles overcome despite missing out on an excellent chance to reach the final. 

Prior to 2018, England's 1990 World Cup defeat by West Germany was their only semi-final appearance in the competition since winning the tournament in 1966

Prior to 2018, England's 1990 World Cup defeat by West Germany was their only semi-final appearance in the competition since winning the tournament in 1966

But England enjoyed rare quarter-final success in Russia, with goals from Harry Maguire (above) and Dele Alli giving them a 2-1 victory over Sweden to reach the final four

But England enjoyed rare quarter-final success in Russia, with goals from Harry Maguire (above) and Dele Alli giving them a 2-1 victory over Sweden to reach the final four

Best tournament result since 1968

Okay, this one comes with caveats, but England had some notable results that cannot be ignored when it comes to their development under Southgate.

Granted the Nations League was a brand new tournament to replace friendlies. It lacks the panache, cultural appeal and  historical significance of the World Cup and Euros, and is yet to be considered a major tournament.

But they are competitive games,

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