Repino (Russia) (AFP) – England landed in Russia on Tuesday hoping a talented young World Cup squad spearheaded by captain Harry Kane can shake off the disappointments of recent tournaments.
After flying into Saint Petersburg, Gareth Southgate’s squad headed to their base camp in the seaside town of Repino, 45 kilometres (30 miles) northwest of the city, where preparations will start for the Three Lions’ opening game against Tunisia on Monday.
England will also face World Cup debutants Panama and highly fancied Belgium in Group G.
Their arrival at the hotel was met with a strong security and media presence.
However, there were few locals on hand to welcome the team to their base other than a small group of excited young boys keen to catch a glimpse of some Premier League stars.
“It’s the one competition that everybody dreams of winning,” said Kane before England set off.
“I’d be surprised if the majority of players did not say the World Cup is the biggest sporting event in the world.”
Early exits in the group stages at the 2014 World Cup and in humiliating fashion to Iceland at Euro 2016 have tempered expectations England can end a 52-year wait to win the World Cup.
However, impressive displays in warm-up wins over Nigeria and Costa Rica have given some hope that England could win a knockout game for the first time at any major tournament for 12 years.
“We hope we can send people to work the following day having enjoyed our matches,” said Southgate.
“I know what those tournament experiences can be like and we desperately want to bring that.”