Agony turned into ecstasy as around 1,000 Leeds-based England fans roared the Three Lions to victory over Wales today.
Despite the 2pm kick-off time, hundreds of fans of all ages took their places in front of Millennium Square’s big screen to voice their support for Roy Hodgson’s men, who took on the Welsh in the Stade Bollaert-Delelis in Lens, France.
Early pessimism from some of the Leeds support was backed up when Real Madrid star and Wales talisman Gareth Bale scored a 35-yard free kick to give the Dragons the lead.
But a second-half fight back from England, inspired by half-time super subs Daniel Sturridge and Jamie Vardy, saw Hodgson’s men claim a famous late victory – sending Millennium Square into raptures.
Sam Jeffrey, 22, from Wakefield, goes to university in Coventry but made his way back to Leeds to enjoy the Euro 2016 atmosphere with fellow fans in the city centre.
He said: “I’ve just finished uni and every possible chance I get to come here to watch England I take,” he said. “I remember in the 2010 World Cup there was a great atmosphere here.”
Solicitor Owen Ormond, 35, from Chapeltown, predicted a draw before the game and was thankfully proved wrong.
“I always try to avoid getting too into it but there’s just a tiny bit of hope and I get carried away,” he said.
Student Anna Prokity, 22, who is originally from Washington DC, was far more confident of an England win.
She added: “I love the atmosphere here, this is what I enjoy. England fans will be happy at the end of the day, I’m sure.”
The result leaves England top of Group B and in pole position to progress into the knock-out stages.
City centre square to be summer sports hub
Millennium Square’s big screen will display a summer of sport this year – including England’s next Euro 2016 game against Slovakia.
The Three Lions’ final Group B game will take place at 8pm and, on the presumption that England progress, more matches will be shown in the square in the coming weeks.
Later this summer, a seated grassy area is to be created for Wimbledon so tennis fans can cheer on Andy Murray in Leeds. The square will also host a Team GB FanZone Leeds during the Rio Olympic Games.