Well, the Finland game is nearly here and after the best part of two weeks together as a squad, we are all ready and can’t wait for the game to kick off.
With this tournament being shown on Sky, it will give all the fans back home a chance to watch us play again and we want to really give them something to be proud of. But I’ve been getting a lot of stick for the previews that Sky have been playing out.
It has clips from after the Semi-Final in 2007 and without going into too much detail, I was very upset and clearly gutted that we lost. We’ve seen it so much now, it’s starting to wear off, but it just shows how much this team and winning this competition means to me and the boys.
With Holland scoring so late in the game, and then the penalties going to 13-12, it was a very emotional night, we felt that we could go on to win the competition, but it wasn’t to be. It was also hard for me even before the penalties as I knew I’d miss the Final, if we got there, after picking up another booking.
Being involved two years ago has hopefully given me, and the rest of the team, the experience to deal with things differently. I’ve learnt my lesson with the refs and that we shouldn’t say too much and get involved.
We’ve also had people from UEFA in to explain a few of the rules and what we can and can’t do. The gaffer has also shown videos of me getting booked in Holland and my reaction afterwards, so the boys can see what can happen, and we have to make sure it doesn’t again.
It’s also great having James Tomkins in the squad as he’s a good mate and we get on really well. It’s nice having him about as I can’t remember the last time I had a team mate in the England squad with me.
Tonka has been through exactly the same as me two years ago; getting into the West Ham first team, booking a holiday at the end of the season and then having to cancel it after being called up for England and getting into the final 23 for the tournament. He made his debut for the Under-21s last Monday and looked very good. I also made my debut in the friendly before we headed out to Holland.
He played so well at the end of the season for us, he really deserved his call up and I hope he gets a chance out here to play in the Finals. When he was picked we spoke about two years ago and the type of things that you can expect and that, as a player, you have to deal with.
There was so much coverage of the tournament in Holland that most of the boys had seen it and knew all about what when on. But being in a tournament isn’t just about the football, it’s also about dealing with the time in the hotel and making sure you are completely prepared for the matches.
Coming back to West Ham afterwards, the things I learned from the tournament helped me a lot. I’d taken the penalties in the shootout and started taking a few for my club and I’ve played two full seasons since so it’s nice to get that sort of experience and I feel I’m a better player for it now.
We are really excited about this tournament, everyone is really up for it and the spirit around the hotel is awesome. We’ve been training very well and the boys look sharp. Now with the first game tonight I just can’t wait for things to get started… Don't forget! You can follow England’s campaign in the Finals with TheFA.com who will be with the team all the way in the Finals.
You'll also be able keep tabs by following us on Twitter , or become a ‘fan’ of the England Under-21s on our official Facebook page .