England’s long wait for Euro 2016 is nearly over after Roy Hodgson’s men arrived on French soil feeling relaxed and excited ahead of Saturday’s opener against Russia.
The Three Lions became the first side to qualify for the tournament back in September, sealing their place with three matches to spare.
Hodgson’s men ended qualification with a 100 per cent record and crossed the Channel on Monday in good spirits, having won hard-fought preparation matches against Turkey, Australia and Portugal.
Gary Cahill, one of the most experienced members of the youngest squad at Euro 2016, described the mood as “nice and relaxed and calm” ahead of Group B getting under way against Russia in Marseille.
“It’s a new experience for the guys who haven’t been in a tournament before, but one they should be looking forward to and I know they are,” the centre-back said upon landing in France.
“The mood’s relaxed and ready to get down to business.
“We’ve had some good training sessions and a good few weeks’ preparation. The lads are just excited to get started.”
England arrived at Le Bourget Airport on yesterday afternoon, with the northern-based players boarding at Manchester before stopping at Luton to collect the rest of the party and flying onto Paris.
A large media presence and smattering of locals were also in attendance when the team arrived at 2.50pm local time, with a short behind-closed-doors training session held later that afternoon.
England will hold an open training session today ahead of Saturday’s Group B clash with Russia – a match Hodgson cannot wait for, nine months after wrapping up qualification.
“It’s what we’ve been looking forward to for such a long time,” the Three Lions boss said.
“We qualified quite early so we’ve had our minds on this moment for a long time and it’s just great to be here.
“I think it will be a very good tournament with a lot of good teams taking part.
“We are relaxed and we think we are in decent form and just hoping we can show that on the field.
“The message (to the players) is we have to show confidence in ourselves.
“I would like the players to show as much confidence in themselves as we, the coaching staff, have in them and we know we have a lot of very talented footballers.
“The one thing we don’t have is a lot of experience but often the energy and enthusiasm the young players will show will make up for that.”
England’s players will certainly be well catered for at the £500-per-night Auberge du Jeu de Paume, which the FA has exclusive access to for the duration of the tournament.
A tarpaulin screen has been erected around the facility, which the FA say is UEFA fencing and other associations would have a similar set-up.
In addition, the site is on public land and allows a certain element of privacy within the training complex.