Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton is hoping to make history with England in the inaugural UEFA Nations League Finals and then help Gareth Southgate’s side build towards becoming the best team in the world.
The Three Lions haven’t won anything substantial since famously lifting the Jules Rimet Trophy, presented to Bobby Moore by Queen Elizabeth II at the old Wembley Stadium in 1966.
The nation hasn’t celebrated success in a major final since Geoff Hurst’s double in extra-time secured that 4-2 win over West Germany in the last World Cup to be played on home soil.
They went close in Italy, finishing fourth in 1990, they were semi-finalists at Euro ‘96 and were again fourth in Russia last summer.
England have the Netherlands standing in their way at Estádio Dom Afonso Henriques in Guimarães on June 6th and then the victor of the other semi-final between hosts Portugal and Switzerland, staged at Porto’s Estádio Do Dragão.
Aside from the British Home Championships and Rous Cup, and the 1997 Le Tournoi success, this would be England’s first piece of silverware in 53 years.
And, for the 33-year-old captain at Turf Moor, lifting a trophy for his country would push his name alongside celebrated goalkeepers Gordon Banks, Ron Springett and Peter Bonetti in the record books.
“It’s been spoken about often here; it’s the first opportunity to lift some silverware with England since 1966,” said Heaton.
“It’s the first time this [UEFA Nations League] has been run but that doesn’t make it mean any less. We want to go out and win the competition.
“We’ve got three other top sides there, it’s never going to be straight forward because international football is very difficult, but with the talent and ability we’ve got in this squad we’re certainly giving ourselves the best chance.
“It would be a step in the right direction of where we want to get to. We want to be the best team in the world and this is another step on that journey.”
Heaton added: “It’s not the World Cup, it’s a different competition, but there’s certainly no less appetite for us to go and win it.
“We want to win that first trophy because it would be a big boost for everyone. It would give us real confidence and belief going in to the European Championships next year.
“There’s a lot of work to be done first, we’ve got a big semi-final against Holland and hopefully we can finish on the right side of the result.
“It’s about continuing the progress that has been made over the last few years, we want to continue that journey, keep developing it and evolving it. We want to keep gearing up for the major competitions.”