World Cup legend Sir Geoff Hurst thinks England can win the tournament, because they remind him of his own 1966 team.
And he praised manager Gareth Southgate and compared his leadership to that of World Cup-winning boss Sir Alf Ramsey.
Sir Geoff, 76, who scored a hat-trick in the 4-2 victory over West Germany in 1966 at Wembley, said he would be disappointed if this team did not make the final on Sunday.
And he sees clear comparisons between this squad and his own.
He said even though this squad may lack superstars such as Bobby Moore and Gordon Banks, they have a humility and togetherness that can overcome all odds.
“They clearly have a winning mentality. They are young, fearless, probably not as aware as we were of the magnitude of the occasion. They are just enjoying it.”
(Image: A M Sorenson)
When comparing the two England teams, Sir Geoff said: “If I look back on the leadership of Alf Ramsey and his staff, that was instrumental in our success.
“Gareth Southgate has been a fantastic leader so far. In terms of the camaraderie there are many similarities. That is a fundamental part of the process of being successful.”
The player Sir Geoff did single out was the “fantastic” captain Harry Kane. He said: “He is unselfish. As a person, he is very grounded.”
And ahead of Wednesday’s clash with Croatia – England’s first World Cup semi-final since 1990 – he predicted the team could go on to land the ultimate prize.
He said: “Yes, I think we can win it. The last two tournaments have been a disaster, so before this tournament – with a young, inexperienced team – it would have been progression to get to the quarter-finals.
“But here we are. A lot of the big boys have gone, we need a bit of luck but we’ve got Croatia, who we are capable of beating even though they have very good players.
“But I will be disappointed, and I think so will the players, if we do not beat that team. And I think you can say the same for the final even if we do face France, who were one of the favourites at the start. It will be a tough ask but they’ll know when they get there.”
- Sir Geoff Hurst was speaking in Swindon at the McDonald’s & FA Community Football Day. Events are taking place across the UK. Find out more here .