Thousands of England fans descend on Stadio Olimpico & millions hit pubs back home for Euro quarter-final with Ukraine

THOUSANDS of England fans are cheering on the team at Stadio Olimpico – while millions are in pubs back home for tonight’s quarter-final clash. 

While some supporters lucky enough to fly into Rome have spent the day drinking in 31C sunshine, most are now at British boozers cheering for Gareth Southgate’s Lions as the game gets under way.

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Hundreds of Brits are in Rome for the England game[/caption]
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But millions of us – like this fan from Newcastle – are celebrating on home turf[/caption]
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Supporters from the city have flocked to Times Square to enjoy the game[/caption]
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For those in the Italian sunshine, spirits are high[/caption]
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In London, one Southgate super-fan donned a mask of the manager’s face – and dressed in his signature waistcoat[/caption]
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Supporters have also crowded into a huge fan zone in Trafalgar Square[/caption]

At least 1,000 England fans have bagged tickets – a mix of expats based in Italy and Three Lions fans arriving from across the globe.

Tonight’s clash with Ukraine comes just days after Brits awoke with sore heads after a wild night of celebrations following the win over Germany, prompting plenty of calls in sick.

Bookies have slashed the odds on an England victory – meaning tomorrow could well be a write-off for millions.

And even England’s 1966 World Cup hero Sir Geoff Hurst thinks it’s coming home.

He tweeted: “Come on England. You can do it. Good luck tonight.”

It comes as:

As revealed by The Sun, Jadon Sancho has started for the Three Lions tonight – while Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish is on the bench.  

Meanwhile, UK cities are packed with punters. Supporters are spilling out of pubs and crowding specially-designated ‘fan zones’.

In Leicester Square, London, blue smoke is drifting over a huge crowd of chanting fans – while in Newcastle and Manchester, keyed-up fans are sinking pints before kick-off.

Those who did manage to get away for the game have spent the day wandering the streets of Rome with drinks in their hands.

Die-hard fans were told not to fly out to Italy for the Euro 2020 game as the destination is on the travel amber list – meaning returning travellers face quarantine upon their return to the UK.

Anyone caught breaking Covid regulations could be hit with a £386 fine, and UEFA even cancelled all tickets sold to England fans living in in the UK over fears they’d flout the rules.

But double-jabbed, coronavirus-secure arrivals via France were allowed a 36-hour window without having to self-isolate.

And expats have flown in to Rome from Dubai, Spain, the Czech Republic and other EU countries.

Around 300 fans have arrived from the UAE alone – paying a whopping £700 for a return ticket – while another 200 are expected to join Brits living in Italy.

Amazingly, England has received backing from an unexpected quarter.

Germany fans still in Italy say they’ll back Brits in the match after they were swayed by the passionate support they saw at Wembley this week.

The Three Lions take on Ukraine at Stadio Olympico in Rome in its first Euro quarter-final for 25 years.

Supporters this afternoon marked the occasion by donning St George costumes in Newcastle, while in London, Prime Minister Boris Johnson posed for photograph outside 10 Downing Street with a giant St George’s flag.

Residents living on a football-mad estate in West London have put up more than 200 flags of their own – and they started singing “It’s Coming Home” at 7am.

Fans may not have made it to Italy – but there’s already dancing in the streets of London
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Some of those who travelled for the match wore scarves – despite today’s 31C heat in Rome[/caption]
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These friends grabbed a pint before kick-off[/caption]
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Manchester fans kissed their shirts – and each other[/caption]
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Huge crowds have gathered in Leicester Square this evening[/caption]
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In Manchester, hundreds of people are at a fan park to watch the game[/caption]
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Cities are heaving with fans dressed in England shirts[/caption]

The residents of Towfield Court in Feltham have spent all their free
hours decorating the estate in tribute to the Lions.

Elsewhere in the capital, huge crowds are watching the game on two screens at Trafalgar Square.

Bradley Hayden, 27, travelled into the city centre from Barnes to “be part of the atmosphere”.

“I thought, ‘Why not come down, get in the thick of it and see what it’s about’,” he said.

“I think we’ve got to have our trust in Southgate – he’s got us this far.

“The boys will do us proud tonight.”

But for others, the temptation to watch their team perform was too great.

Chris Pike, 32, flew into Rome from his home in Dubai with group of five friends, telling the MailOnline: “There will be more England fans in the stadium than Ukraine and we will make as much noise as possible.

“I’ve got my England shirt and we will do all we can to cheer England on.’

Pike and friend Henry Mark are expecting to fork out £2000 for the entire trip after paying £250 for match tickets and £700 for their flight.

“It really is a one off and fantastic to be here in Rome and cheer on England. I will get my white shirt on later and we are looking to see if we can get any flags.”

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Manchester’s designated fan park is heaving with supporters[/caption]
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Many wrapped themselves in flags to celebrate the day[/caption]
Brits are already lifting a nervous pint ahead of the game, which kicks off at 8pm UK time
Brits this afternoon lifted nervous pint ahead of the game, which kicks off at 8pm UK time
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England fans raised a glass to the team this afternoon in Italy[/caption]
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Pubs in London are heaving tonight[/caption]
Anticipation is high, with many grabbing a beer to calm their nerves
Anticipation is high, with many grabbing a beer to calm their nerves

And one fan has been left devastated after a Covid diagnosis meant he was unable to see his team play.

Gary Wills, 49, is British-born but now lives in Hamburg. He booked a flight, football tickets and a hotel – but tested positive for the deadly bug days after getting his second jab.

“For me, it was a real chance-in-a-lifetime thing,” he said.

“Totally gutted.”

Malcolm Clarke, chairman of the Football Supporters’ Association, said fans in England are disappointed about not being able to travel, but added: “We’ve got used to a bit of disappointment.”

He told Times Radio: “We haven’t been watching football live for a long time – club games and internationals (have) been missed, so to some extent, people got used to it.”

Mr Clarke joked that fans were just hoping “England can give us something to cheer about”.

Fans gather in Rome ahead of Ukraine v England
Fans held aloft pints early this afternoon – and after a day of beaming sunshine in Italy, there’ll be sore heads tomorrow
The excitement is beginning to build
The excitement has reached fever pitch
England fans at Centenary Square in Birmingham
In Birmingham, many started celebrating several hours before kick-off
One Nottingham fan painted his face with England’s colours
Some enjoyed a kick-about in the sunshine in the Italian capital earlier today
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Fans have also gathered at BoxPark Croydon, where Stormzy watched the England-Germany game[/caption]
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Two Kane fans wore masks of his face in Nottingham[/caption]

Jack Francis, 20, from Southampton, travelled to Rome from France.

“I’m feeling confident for the game especially if we play the way we did against Germany,” he said.

“But with the lack of home advantage it will be interesting to see how we play in our first away game of the tournament, but hopefully the England fans here will do all they can to give the players a boost.”

Many of the tickets have been sold to some of the 30,000 expats who live in Italy and the FA returned its allocation of tickets for the 16,000-capacity stadium.

The Three Lions secured their place in the tournament’s last eight with an historic victory over Germany.

The win – courtesy of second-half goals from Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane – was their first over their old rivals in 55 years.

And better yet, Southgate’s team are the only remaining side yet to concede a goal after a 1-0 win over Croatia and the Czech Republic and a goalless draw with Scotland.

If the team manage a victory in Rome, they will face either the Czech Republic or Denmark next week.

Football legend Gary Lineker earlier told fans: “Pace yourself today, kick off is not until 8 o’clock,” with a beer stein emoji.

But – perhaps unsurprisingly – those watching the game on home turf will spend a small fortune on food and booze today.

Forecasters predict a £533m pay-out for refreshments.

Six million pints will be knocked back during the game alone – with 19m sunk over the course of the day, according to metro.co.uk.

Beers sales soared 60 per cent at the Co-op and by 40 per cent at Sainsbury’s and Waitrose as fans spend £348millioon stocking up on match-day essentials to consume at home.

England and Ukraine have played seven times with the Three Lions generally having the better of close encounters.

The Three Lions won four matches, drew two, and lost one since 1999.

Bookies are predicting England will claim victory tonight


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