Gareth Southgate has hit back at Swedish suggestions that England are a “team of entitlement” ahead of their World Cup quarter-final in Samara.
Former Sweden international Hakan Mild has accused the Three Lions of being “spoilt children who earn a lot of money” and believes England are underestimating their Scandinavian opponents.
However, Southgate insists there will be no room for complacency on Saturday and says his young squad are still grounded, despite the growing optimism around the England camp.
“I’m a football person,” said Southgate. “It’s nice within football to affect some things and the players have that opportunity as well because they have a voice and they have influence on young people, especially the young people from the areas they came from.
“They can give hope to them and, like I said the other day, we’re not a team where we just turn up and we’re waltzing around, strolling around and we’ve got an entitlement.
“We’re lads who have come from Barnsley and Leeds and Bolton and Blackburn.
“That’s so important for us on Saturday because I always think Sweden like to point out we’re paid this and that, and we’re the team of entitlement, when I don’t think that is the case for this group.
“It’s important we remember Steve (Holland) was at Crewe. I was at Palace when they weren’t quite as good as they are now. We’ve scrapped and fought our way.
“Most of our boys have played in the Championship or lower, whether they started there or played on loan there. They are really important messages for us.
“We are having success because we are really grafting for each other, we are playing some good football but we are really working without the ball.
“No passengers, nobody failing to close down, nobody strolling around. That’s the bedrock of why we are getting some decent results and we have to continue doing that.”