LONDON (AP) — All the years of hurt, England fans sing about it. All that sense of entitlement, rival fans are irritated by it.
After decades of embarrassment and moaning at tournaments, the English have a chance to finally back up the bravado — just listen to the team anthem, “Football’s Coming Home” — with a trophy.
The nation that lays claim to being the inventor of soccer, but is more fittingly one of the sport’s great underachievers, is back in a final — against Italy in the European Championships.
The teams will meet Sunday night at Wembley Stadium in London where England will be going for its first major title since winning the 1966 World Cup on their home field. The Italians are unbeaten in 33 games.
It’s been 55 agonizing years for England through 26 World Cups and European Championship tournaments, seven of which they didn’t even qualify for.
Even less illustrious national teams like Denmark and Greece have won trophies since then. But England became all about falling short on a world stage it felt it should dominate.
Beating Denmark on Wednesday broke through the semifinal obstacle at least in the Euros, prevailing 2-1 in extra time and avoiding the penalty shootouts that have proved to be the team’s nemesis through all those near-misses.