England showed their ‘character’ in battling win over Serbia – Kieran Trippier

By Simon Peach, PA Chief Football Writer, Gelsenkirchen

Kieran Trippier believes England showed their mettle and Euro 2024 credentials by digging deep to start a major tournament with a win for the fourth time in row.

Gareth Southgate’s men are among the favourites to become kings of the continent three years on from going within a penalty shootout of winning the last edition.

England underlined their qualities as Jude Bellingham scored to reward a fantastic, free-flowing start, only for Serbia to wrest control and threaten to equalise in Sunday’s Group C clash.

But Southgate’s side held firm to go top of the pool with a 1-0 win that full-back Trippier believes is an important starting point on the road to Berlin.

“It’s always massive,” Trippier said. “You look across the past few tournaments that we’ve had, it is always crucial to get the first win.

“We knew it would be a tough game, a tough team to play against and we had to defend our box very well, and I thought we did that.

“We’ve learned a lot, but the most important thing is the three points.

“It gives us great momentum, belief. It shows the character of the boys.

“When it gets tough, you know you have to deal with that.

“The subs that came on made a huge impact and that’s what we’ve always talked about – the togetherness of the group, everyone has to be ready.

“You can be called upon at any moment and the subs were a great impact for us.”


Trippier knows there are kinks to iron out but believes England will only benefit from the win in Gelsenkirchen, where he completed his first 90 minutes since late February, having dealt with a calf issue.

The 33-year-old pulled up with cramp in the second half but now has time to recover ahead of Thursday’s second group game against Denmark in Frankfurt.

“We’re not thinking about a point,” Trippier said. “We want to go into the Denmark game and we want to win. That’s our only focus.

“We don’t want to focus on anything else further than that.

“We know Denmark are a very good side, good quality players, so now the most important thing is we recover as a team and then we focus on Denmark.”

England broke Danish hearts en route to the Euro 2020 showpiece, coming back to beat them 2-1 in extra-time in their Wembley semi-final.

Mikkel Damsgaard’s free-kick that night was the first goal Southgate’s side conceded at the tournament, the team built on solid foundations that critics feared would be rather less sturdy in Germany.

England’s Kieran Trippier hugs team-mate Trent Alexander-Arnold
Kieran Trippier helped England shut out Serbia in their Euro 2024 opener. Photo: Adam Davy/PA. Photo by Adam Davy

But major tournament debutant Marc Guehi stepped in impressively for the absent Harry Maguire and Trippier filled as makeshift left-back as Luke Shaw recovers from a hamstring injury.

“Clean sheets are massive,” the Newcastle defender said. “As you look through the winners of tournaments, clean sheets are a massive factor.

“We talk about that lot, defend our box well and certainly we had to defend crosses because they put some dangerous balls in the box.

“If you look at the last tournament as well, I think we had the most clean sheets and that can take you far.

“The most important thing is don’t concede and you see the quality that we have got at the other end to score goals.”

There is certainly more to come in an attacking sense, but in man-of-the-match Bellingham England have a star able to take games by the scruff of the neck.

Trippier continues to be impressed by the 20-year-old’s ability and attitude, which saw Southgate include him in his four-man leadership group for the Euros.

Jude Bellingham celebrates scoring for England against Serbia
Match-winner Jude Bellingham impressed against Serbia. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA. Photo by Martin Rickett

“You don’t need to be at my age to be a leader. You can be 18, 19, 20,” the defender said. “You can lead in different ways.

“Jude is so young but he leads. Like I said, you don’t need to be an experienced player, you don’t need to be Harry Kane who is the captain, you can lead in any way at any age.

“We’ve got that in our squad. The new players coming into our squad have done extremely well, they speak up and we have made them feel very welcome.”