England's Conor Gallagher playing pool during a media day at Schlossverein Blankenhain in Blankenhain, Germany. England's Conor Gallagher playing pool during a media day at Schlossverein Blankenhain in Blankenhain, Germany.
England's Conor Gallagher playing pool during a media day at Schlossverein Blankenhain in Blankenhain, Germany. | Adam Davy/PA Wire

From chess to snooker, behind the scenes for England team's unusual Euro 2024 preparation

From chess to snooker, the England team's unusual Euro 2024 preparation has included a variety of off-pitch activities aimed at boosting team morale ahead of their group opener match against Serbia on Sunday in Gelsenkirchen.

Gareth Southgate’s squad enters Germany as one of the top contenders for the title, eager to make a strong start in Group C despite a disappointing recent loss to Iceland at Wembley, and now the team seeks to establish their dominance with an initial victory.

As the Euros kick off tonight (June 14), England's star striker Harry Kane has also shared his newfound passion for chess. The 30-year-old captain, along with the rest of team, trained intensively on Thursday (June 13) at their Blankenhain headquarters.

Kane, England’s top scorer, might also be making strategic moves off the field. He told The Sun: "I use chess just to switch off; it's such a mental game. You have to focus on every moment, every move." He said this classic strategy game helps him unwind and stay mentally sharp, reflecting his thoughtful approach both on and off the pitch.

Ahead of their first match, consideration is being given to starting Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield alongside Declan Rice, with Crystal Palace’s Marc Guehi set to make his debut in a major tournament, partnering with John Stones in defence, due to Harry Maguire's injury.

Although England is viewed as a favourite, Serbia poses a significant threat with key players such as Juventus striker Dusan Vlahovic, Al Hilal’s Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Aleksandar Mitrovic, and Fenerbahce’s playmaker Dusan Tadic.

England will then face Denmark on June 20 in Frankfurt at the Waldstadion and its final group stage game will be against Slovenia on June 25 in Cologne at the RheinEnergieStadion.

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