Harry Kane says England have bonded with the public by being “normal lads” who hope to fulfil childhood dreams in “the biggest game of all our careers”.
Captain Kane could lift England’s first trophy in 55 years if they beat Italy to win Euro 2020 at Wembley on Sunday.
The possibility has seen his name referenced alongside 1966 World Cup-winning captain Bobby Moore.
“Whenever your name is mentioned in company like that, it gives motivation and confidence,” Kane told BBC Sport.
“I think it’s the biggest game in my career so far and probably the biggest game of all of our careers so far.
“You dream of these moments as a kid – lifting trophies for your country. And we have that opportunity now.
“These are the opportunities you have to grab with both hands.”
England’s success in the championship has followed positive headlines featuring a number of the squad’s players.
Striker Marcus Rashford has won praise for assisting a number of good causes, while forward Raheem Sterling will receive an MBE for his services to racial equality in sport.
Midfielder Jordan Henderson helped orchestrate financial support for good causes from Premier League players during the coronavirus pandemic and England’s players have already said they will donate a chunk of their prize money from the Euros to National Health Service.
Speaking to BBC sports editor Dan Roan, Tottenham striker Kane added: “I think we’ve shown that were just normal, normal lads.
“We know that the ultimate goal is to finish the job now. But yeah, for sure everyone should be proud of the way they’ve represented themselves and obviously their friends and family across across the country.”
‘Dreams and Raheem’s tournament’
Italy have won their last 14 fixtures – conceding just twice in normal time – and Kane admits the four-time World Cup winners will prove “tough” opponents.
Central defender John Stones says England have been motivated by scenes of celebration on social media in recent days and – like his captain – is aware of how fans dream of being in the players’ position.
“It’s difficult to put into words,” the Manchester City defender said. “We have definitely thrived off the fans.
“I suppose we are living their dream, right at the front , out on the pitch. We can’t thank them enough for all their support through the tough times and the good.
“The support is deeply appreciated by us as players. We are proud to represent them, the country and we hope we do them proud on Sunday.”
Stones moved to praise manager Gareth Southgate, highlighting his “calmness”, a quality he says then “passes through the team”.
He also explained he hopes Sterling can go on to be named player of the tournament.
His Manchester City team-mate has delivered superb displays and scored three times in England’s passage to the final.
His fine form follows a season during which he opened up about facing racist abuse on social media and where his place in the England starting line-up was questioned.
“I couldn’t be happier for him,” said Stones. “He’s gone through some difficult times personally. You can see it’s motivated him and he’s come out the other end a better player. That’s what top players do, they find something, a way to excel as a person and a player.
“He has done that on and off the pitch. He really deserves it.”
‘Choose your medal’ – Southgate
Southgate knows he is one win away from joining the late Sir Alf Ramsey – England manager in 1966 – as the only men to guide their country to major honours.
The 50-year-old has highlighted Italy’s 33-match unbeaten run as evidence of the test his side face in only the second major final in England’s history.
“We can win it, but we’ve got to get it spot on to win it,” said Southgate.
“I said to the players yesterday, people are respecting how they’ve been and that they’ve represented the country in the right way, but now they have a choice of what colour medal.
“We know the size of the challenge, but what a brilliant challenge for us to have and what a brilliant opportunity for the players to write one more piece of history.
“I know it won’t be enough for me and for the rest of the staff and for the players if we don’t win it now.”