Declan Rice: European Championship semi-final is a massive opportunity to create history

West Ham United’s Declan Rice is in buoyant mood ahead of England’s potentially historic 2020 European Championship semi-final against Denmark on Wednesday evening.

The holding midfielder has been instrumental in the Three Lions’ fine run to this stage of the competition, helping his national side to record five clean sheets from five games and reach the Euros semi-finals for the first time in a quarter of a century.

Standing in England and Rice’s way of a first-ever Euros final are an admirable and talented Denmark team, who have earned widespread plaudits for their recovery from a traumatic opening game in which midfielder Christian Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest.

Having lost their first two games to Finland and Belgium, Denmark have since recovered to put in impressive showings in wins over Russia, Wales and Czech Republic.

But with 60,000 fans expected to be in attendance at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday evening, Rice is backing his teammates to rise on the occasion and build on their own impressive wins over Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany and Ukraine.

To get one step beyond would be unbelievable and I’ve never seen a group of lads that are this focused on the job ahead

Declan Rice

Should they progress, Italy would lie in wait in Sunday’s final, having beaten Spain on penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw on Tuesday.

“Denmark is a massive opportunity for us to create history,” Rice admitted. “We’d be the first England team since 1966 to play in a final if we get there. 

“To get one step beyond would be unbelievable and I’ve never seen a group of lads that are this focused on the job ahead. 

“I think we’re going to thrive on the opportunity and go out there and do the business.”

Should he feature against Denmark as expected on Wednesday evening, this would be Rice’s second semi-final in an England shirt, having started against the Netherlands in the UEFA Nations League finals in June 2019.

Such a feat – after 22 caps, and achieved within just two-and-a-half years of his England debut – could be just the beginning for 22-year-old Rice, the Hammer hopes.

He added: “You can never take it for granted because even now I’m still only young, but time flies by and it’s so important when you’re trying to work hard to make it that you remember to enjoy it as well.

“It goes so quick so you need to take every opportunity.”