Luke Shaw has said Gareth Southgate’s side would never show disrespect to their opponents as the left-back reflected on the infamous video of Wales players celebrating England’s humiliating defeat by Iceland at Euro 2016.
With passions sure to be high when Wales aim to keep alive their slim hopes of staying in the World Cup by beating their neighbours on Tuesday, the mind went back to the reaction that greeted Iceland’s shock triumph in Nice six years ago. A clip of Wales players cheering the result went viral and did not go down well in the England dressing room.
Shaw was not in the squad that went out to Iceland in the last 16 of the Euros – he was recovering from a broken leg – but the Manchester United defender has not forgotten the video. He said England, who can clinch top spot in Group B by beating Wales, would not behave in a similar way. “I think we are a respectful group,” Shaw said. “We do things in the right way. That’s the example Gareth wants to set. We are fully behind that. We are fully respectful. That’s the way Gareth sets us out to be.”
Shaw agreed that the video would give England added motivation against Wales, who are close to being eliminated after their defeat by Iran. “I think you could say that,” Shaw said. “But our motivation in itself has to be at its highest level. We are at the World Cup. We have great aims for what we want to achieve.
“We have to have the maximum motivation at every game. I don’t think there’s any more motivation than what we have already. We have to have 100% motivation in every training session and every game that we have.
“It wasn’t nice. I don’t want to dwell too much on that. I want to focus on what we do on the pitch. We can say things in interviews and I’d rather do our talking on the pitch, rather than off it.”
Wales have one point from their opening two games but they will be desperate to beat England. Southgate will remember how his side toiled when they drew 0-0 with Scotland at Euro 2020. England’s manager was even asked if he had seen the impassioned speech the actor Michael Sheen delivered to the Wales squad before the World Cup.
“We have got to play well,” Southgate said. “We are going to play an opponent that is wounded and, like everybody else, desperate to beat the English. We know what that will be. We have got to play an intelligent game and play well.
“Match the spirit. I would be very disappointed if someone says to me that their players will want it more than ours. I would be asking questions about what we stand for and what we have been for five years. We are not quite done. We need a point more to be certain of qualifying. We need three points and if we get that we top the group.”
Southgate was asked if Wales would have more passion than England. “I don’t think in the time I have been in charge that we have fallen short because of pride or emotion and spirit in wearing the shirt,” he said. “What we have got to do is play well and use the ball well. They have got some players who can change games and are good players. But it’s about concentrating on our performance and making sure that we step up again. World Cups throw up different tests and we have to makes sure we can cope.”
Shaw stressed that England, who need an improvement after their goalless draw with the USA, must be wary of taking on a fellow home nation. “I think their motivation is going to be extremely high,” he said of Wales. “They are going to give everything to win. It’s not an easy game. But we need to focus on what we do. The talent we have, the depth we have, we need to focus on ourselves. If we prepare properly, we should win the game.”