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Gary Lineker believes better preparation at youth level is the reason behind England's success under Gareth Southgate.
The Three Lions are in the final of a major tournament for the first time since 1966 and will lift the European Championship trophy for the first time if they can beat Italy at Wembley.
England have come a long way in a short space of time under Southgate.
The 50-year-old boss took over after Sam Allardyce's one-game reign which came just after the country's embarrassments under Roy Hodgson at the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016.
England failed to make it out of the group stages in Brazil, while a last-16 defeat to the minnows of Iceland in France ranks as one of England's greatest tournament failures.
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There has been rapid improvement ever since, with England reaching the semi-final of the 2018 World Cup and going one better to make the final of Euro 2020.
Lineker, who scored 48 goals in 80 matches for the Three Lions, attributes that progress to the developments that have been made in youth football.
Speaking on the BBC ahead of Sunday's final, he said: "This is the real reason England have been successful.
"We’ve got greater depth, younger players coming through because we’re prepared properly.
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"It’s only eight to ten years ago kids were playing on full sized pitches. No wonder we just humped it!"
By reaching the final of Euro 2020, England are ahead of the target of former FA Chairman Greg Dyke, who said in 2013 that the Three Lions should aim to reach the semi-final of the current tournament.
In his speech, Dyke said: "English football is a tanker that needs turning."
He added: "The two targets I have for the England team are – one, to at least reach the semi-finals of Euro 2020 and two, win the World Cup in 2022."
- England Football Team
- Euro 2020
- Gary Lineker
- Gareth Southgate
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