Shropshire Star

Reaction: Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins is England's hero

Ollie Watkins described firing England into the final of Euro 2024 as 'the best feeling ever'.

Last updated

Gareth Southgate’s side dug deep to see off the Netherlands 2-1 and seal a shot at history in Sunday’s Berlin showpiece against favourites Spain.

Harry Kane’s spot-kick cancelled out a superb Xavi Simons opener before Watkins stepped off the bench and wrote his name into the history books by sealing a 2-1 triumph in the 90th minute.

And the man of the moment said: “Unbelievable. I’ve been waiting for that moment for weeks. It’s taken a lot of hard work to get to where I am now. I’m grateful I got the opportunity and I grabbed it with both hands and I’m delighted.

“I swear on my life, on my kids’ lives, I said to Cole Palmer ‘We’re coming on and you’re going to set me up’ and that’s why I was so happy with Coley, I knew as soon as he got the ball he was going to play me.

“You’ve got to be greedy, touch and shoot and when I see it going into the bottom corner it’s the best feeling ever.

“There’s been a lot of criticism but at the end of the day we’re in the final and that’s all that matters. Forget all the outside noise, we’re in the final.

“We’ve got that kind of bounce-back factor, going a goal behind seems to kick us into gear. We never give up. We’ve won on penalties and come from behind. There’s one more game now – we’re ready.”

Skipper Kane, who was the man to make way for Watkins, added: "We talk about being ready. We're a big team at being ready. When it matters, you might get five minutes, one minute, but you can make a difference, you can win us a tournament. He's been waiting, he's been patient. What he did was outstanding and he deserves it."

Ex-England striker Ian Wright was full of praise for match-winner Watkins.

“I’m delighted for him,” Wright said on ITV. “He’s worked very hard to get in the position he’s in now.

“I’m lost for words, just seeing someone finally being in a position to stretch a team, get half a chance and take a shot. I don’t know what to say. It was an unbelievable moment.”

Gary Neville added: “We’ve questioned whether Gareth would make the substitution, get Harry Kane off in big moments. He’s gone and done it and it’s paid off big style. Absolutely amazing.”

And Lee Dixon said: “The game just started to die but the substitutions – Ollie Watkins. Southgate did his bit. He put them on with a vision of scoring the winner and boy did he score a winner. He has put them into the final, fully deserved.”