We're proud to have played our part in a historic England campaign that came so close to glory.
It’s now a little over six weeks ago that Gareth Southgate and his England players arrived in the north-east to kick-off their Euro 2020 journey at our Rockliffe Park training ground.
Minus their European club competition finalists, England’s preparations got underway with intense sessions on the Rockliffe pitches while they made the most of the wealth of facilities on offer at the training ground and the Rockliffe Hall hotel.
Their stay included two games at the Riverside when over 8,000 fans got their first glimpses of Southgate’s Euro 2020 Three Lions squad in action, the largest crowds in our stadium in over a year.
The first warm-up game saw a Bukayo Saka goal account for Austria before a Marcus Rashford penalty proved enough to see off Romania a few days later.
The Riverside crowds – comprising of Three Lions fans from all around the country – were able to provide a fitting send-off for the former Boro favourite and his charges, and Southgate couldn’t speak highly enough of the time England spent in our region.
“It’s been fantastic for us,” he said. “Middlesbrough couldn’t have been more welcoming and have been great to us.”
From there, it was on to St George’s Park and Wembley for three group matches that saw wins against the Czech Republic and Croatia.
The Three Lions were held to a 0-0 draw by a Scotland side, who had followed in England’s footsteps by using Rockliffe as their base for the duration of their stay in the tournament.
A win against arch-rivals Germany saw England set-up a quarter-final tie against Ukraine in Rome, and the subsequent four-goal demolition of a team who were blown away.
A first major tournament final appearance in 55 years, and first ever in the European Championships was clinched after Denmark were beaten 2-1 in extra time, setting the stage for a winner-takes-all showdown with Italy.
After Luke Shaw's early opener, the Italians hit back, and the contest went all the way to penalties - the Azzurri edging it and inflicting the most cruel of defeats on the Three Lions.
Gareth and England, we’re proud of you. And we’re proud to have played our part in history.