England Under-21s coach spoke to the press ahead of Euro 2013 opener against Italy
England v Italy
UEFA European Under-21 Championship
Group A match
7.30pm (BST), Wednesday 5 June 2013
Bloomfield Stadium, Tel Aviv
Live on Sky Sports
Stuart Pearce is looking forward to a ‘fantastic tournament’ in Israel, which kicks off on Wednesday against Italy.
For England Under-21s Coach Pearce, Euro 2013 represents his fourth time in charge of the young Lions at a major tournament.
While he acknowledges the achievement of reaching the eight-team competition, Pearce says he’ll only be able to judge whether it’s been a success when the Finals are over.
And on Wednesday night he expects a tough match with the Azzurrini in Tel Aviv to get things under way.
“When we start our journey every two years we sit our players down and talk about winning the tournament,” said Pearce. “We’re here to win and I’ll be disappointed if the seven other teams didn’t have the same objective.
“In my time in charge at four tournaments, France haven’t got here once, and they are a major side, so to get here and be a part of this fantastic tournament is a success in itself.
“If I strip it down, the burning ambition inside me is to win it. If I strip it down to me doing my job developing young talented players, the 23 who are here will have a fantastic experience, know what tournament football is about and hopefully we’ll see a few of them stepping forward.
“Roll the clock back two years, we had Smalling, Jones, Walker, Sturridge, Welbeck and others who have all gone into the seniors.
“Sometime it’s best to let time take its course and look back to see what has been successful for us.”
Pearce revealed that confidence is sky high in the England camp after a nine-game winning streak that they’ll be hoping to extend against Italy.
After an enjoyable week of training and relaxing in Turkey, they’ve settled into their base in Israel quickly as the excitement builds for their opening clash.
“We’re reinforcing the messages that we’ve been working on over the last two years and we’ve been fairly successful in that period of qualification getting here.
“Once I get 23 players behind me on an aeroplane, they are the ones I want to go into battle with. This group have a great spirit about them.”
He continued: “We’re enjoying the sunshine, and the good thing for us and the other teams is that the games are in the evening when it gets a bit cooler.
“The standard of football will be a little bit quicker and the weather won’t play a part in any of the matches.”
Italy will provide a stern test for the Under-21s, according to Pearce, and he is in no doubt they will have an impact on proceedings in Israel.
“The Italians are an outstanding attacking force, they have some real outstanding forward players, good experience, well-organised team and very hard working side as you would expect,” he said.
“They will make a good impression on this tournament, I’m sure about that.
Pearce added: “Our squad have got their tails up, they’re bright and look sharp, they’re pleased to be here and are looking forward to the first game.”
You can keep updated with us inside the camp, here on TheFA.com, via Twitter @FA or the official England Facebook page...