Euro 2012: Joe Hart says England are here to win tournament

 

Euro 2012: England v Italy

  • Venue: Olympic Stadium, Kiev
  • Date: Sunday, 24 June
  • Kick-off: 19:45 BST

Coverage: BBC One, BBC One HD, BBC Sport website and BBC Radio 5 live

Joe Hart says England cannot be satisfied with merely reaching the quarter-finals of Euro 2012.

LAWRO'S PREDICTION

"I think this will be a tight game which will go to penalties and I think England will win it on penalties because they have got such a good goalkeeper in Hart."

Roy Hodgson's side have exceeded expectations by progressing to the knockout stage as group winners to set up a last-eight clash with Italy.

Hart, 25, says he and his England team-mates believe they can go even further.

"The whole point in coming here is not to keep people happy and off our backs," the goalkeeper said. "We are here to win."

Hart added: "We are not those guys [who settle for reaching the quarter-finals] - we are winners. We want to be successful for ourselves and make English people proud of their team.

"We would like to leave here having given everything. Whether that makes people happy, or keeps people off our backs, whatever. Just as long [as] we know we have given everything."

Hodgson has fashioned a side that is proving hard to beat, with England battling to a well-earned draw against France in their Group C opener before seeing off Sweden and co-hosts Ukraine to top the standings.

England are winners - Hart

Few had backed England to progress to the last eight, let alone finish ahead of France, but Hart says that was never a view shared by himself or his team-mates.

"Regardless of what some people thought, that was nothing to do with the camp. There has been a group of people who did not think we would do well but for anyone who knew the players it is not a surprise and it is part of the plan," he said.

"We're growing with each game. We started well with the right ideas and right game-plans and we've executed them well."

Hart was also keen to highlight the part played by the small, but vocal, following England have at the tournament and believes their presence has played a part in the team surpassing expectations.

Joe Hart is as assured off the field as he is on it. When he faces the media the young England goalkeeper always has something interesting to say and gives the firm impression of someone confident in his work and confident in the company of his team-mates, whether it is at their base in Krakow or out on the field.

The Manchester City keeper is a mature individual who keeps the pressure of representing England at Euro 2012 in perspective while focusing firmly on his vitally important role. It is easy to see why he is such a key component of England's present and future.

He said: "For me, walking out against Ukraine and seeing the whole sea of yellow but seeing that one corner of England fans all singing together, it means so much. When you see England fans it means the world, we appreciate it is difficult for them to come out here but we appreciate it."

Like England, Italy are unbeaten at the tournament so far, having finished second in Group C following draws with Spain and Croatia and a victory over the Republic of Ireland.

The Italians still boast a number of 2006 World Cup winners in their team, and Hart could find himself facing Manchester City team-mate Mario Balotelli.

But whoever lines up for Cesare Prandelli's side on Sunday, Hart is keen to stress that England will go into the game without fear.

"[Balotelli] could be a great threat, he's a great player," he added. "I've never actually played against the guy but it would be a lot of fun.

England

Possession needed by each quarter-finalist to score a goal

"Italy have a very good team, with a very good history and they are good team regardless of whoever they put out.

"[But] we do not fear anyone. We are a good team and we are here to do well."

Hart will also put himself up for penalty-taking duty, should the game go to spot-kicks.

"If they let me, I would put my name forward 100 per cent," he said. "Hopefully it won't come to that but I would back myself in a tournament.

"If penalties are required then so be it."

Parker praises England 'togetherness'