ENGLAND star John Stones laid bare the Three Lions’ hunger to end 56 years of World Cup hurt last night and roared: “We are in it to win it!”
ReutersEngland defender John Stones is determined to put the pain of past defeats behind him[/caption]
And he revealed England’s agonising last ditch failures at the last two tournaments are driving the squad toward glory.
He said: “It is a big motivation for the team, 100 percent.
“I always aim for the highest thing to win the competition – I have always said we are in it to win it is my belief is that we can do it.
“We need to think about everything we have done, our ambitions and where this can take us.
“Coming so close twice now, especially the last tournament, you never want to go through that feeling again.
“It is probably more than likely I will through my career, so I cannot get my head around that but I always want to do better than the last time.
“Getting fourth in a World Cup was incredible where we came from but we need to better that and some more.
“In 2018 it was a success in terms of uniting the nation and everyone loving English football again – but you look back and we were so close.
“I never want to go through that again.
“As a team, as a fan, this is something you dream of as a kid, and we never want to feel that way again.
“We have to better what we did last time, that is the long and short of it.”
John also revealed the team had been practising penalty shoot-outs in a bid to banish the spot kick hoodoo which has haunted England teams for decades.
Southgate is understood to have ordered psychological training to steel his men for the intense pressure to come if games go to dreaded shoot-outs in the knockout stages.
The star – a key rock in a solid defence which has conceded just two goals in Qatar – said: “Four years ago we won our first shoot out and then in Euros it did not work out.
“So we have done a lot of work on penalties and the fine details of it and working on individual needs, sometimes people have to step up and it is trying to find comfort in that environment.
“You have to get used to being uncomfortable and for lads like me going through the process of what you need to be clinical at that time.”
John stressed England were not underestimating Sunday’s West African Last 16 opponents Senegal – and were desperate to make fans in Qatar and back home proud.
He said: “We have come through these three games in a difficult group and in a World Cup, anything can happen.
“We have already seen big upsets, and we do not want to take anything for granted, and always respect the opposition and we will do that.
“It has been a great journey for all of us as a nation – we want to make everyone proud.”
GettyGareth Southgate is preparing his side for the intensity of the World Cup knockout rounds[/caption]