Become a ‘fan’ of the England Under-21s on our official Facebook page
I woke up this morning a very happy man. Last night was a tough game and we were all really tired and drained after another amazing night.
I thought it was going to be a repeat of two years ago in Holland. Another European Championship semi-final and another penalty shootout. Before the game, Milly had said about him missing out in two different semi-finals, pn penalties, against the hosts and he didn’t want a repeat of that. But when Sweden fought back from three goals down I couldn’t believe it.
I think we did a good job in the first half and our preparation was spot on, scoring three goals from one of our strong areas of the game. We have some powerful players in this team and we can be very dangerous from set-pieces.
After half-time Sweden came out and made it very hard for us and when they got their first goal it really lifted the crowd. They were flying and we should take nothing away from them. To come from three goals down is not easy and they just kept going. But I know it may sound funny, but we never thought that we’d lose, we always had confidence, especially when we went into penalties.
With ten men, the boys did very well to hold on in very tough conditions – it was hot out on the pitch and I know it’s the same for both, but the Swedish players are halfway through their season, where we’re at the end of a very long year.
I wasn’t on the pitch at the end, and it was probably worse for me and the other subs watching the shootout, rather than the players on the pitch. I was nervous, I won’t lie, but the lads lining up ready to take their kicks were relaxed and focused after so much penalty practise.
The Swedish fans tried to make it even harder for us, whistling and booing when one of our boys went up. I didn’t know what to think when Milly slipped and sent the first one into the crowd. He’s such a consistent penalty taker in training and he would have been gutted, but fortunately for him, and the team, Joe Hart made a save straight away to keep us level.
Joe was fantastic, he also smashed his penalty in, and I feel so gutted for him that he’ll be suspended for the Final. He’s worked so hard for us all through qualifying and in the Final, and for him to miss out he must be devastated. I sort of know what he feels like as I would have missed the Final two years ago if we’d made it. But with him, Gabby and Fraizer all out, there’s three more reasons why we want to make sure we win this trophy.
When the last penalty hit the post, it was a great feeling, both mentally and physically. The team dug in and showed their character. Afterwards, the dressing room was quiet as, although we won, we know we can do better. But we’re in the Final on Monday and no one can take that away from us.
We started out nearly two years ago to win the competition and we’re one step away now. There’s still a lot of hard work to do, Germany will definitely not be easy, but we’re a confident team, we have a great spirit and believe that we can achieve what we set out to do.
Next stop, Malmo. 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 .