England fans from all over Italy and Europe are descending on Rome on Saturday to try and roar the Three Lions to victory.
An extraordinary number of supporters have managed to get their hands on tickets for the crucial game.
Middlesbrough fan Dani Fejer got the train down to “Fortress Rome” from Milan last night and said: “We will be doing our best to help Gareth Southgate’s team reach the semi final.”
For many supporters it will be their first ever England match but they are determined to “do their bit” for the country.
The England team have flown into Rome from Birmingham ready for tomorrow’s historic game against Ukraine.
And regular loyal fans stranded at home can’t thank the “Dads and Mums Army” – so called because many of the ‘new’ supporters are older – enough.
Nurse Sally Starkey, 47, from Grimsby, has been to all the games at Wembley so far.
Nothing would normally have stopped her from going to Rome.
But she is being forced to watch it in a caravan park in Lincolnshire because of the restrictions but understands why.
She said: “I have a ticket for the semi final and final – so hopefully the lads will do it.
“I know the fans from Europe who are lucky enough to have tickets to the game will be singing to get the team through just like we did at Wembley.
“The pandemic is something we have to get through safely.
“Covid restrictions prevent us from going so I shall watch it in a safe environment until we return to Wembley.”
Dani, 32, is a social media manager from Eaglescliffe, Teesside who lives near Lake Como in Northern Italy.
“I only got my ticket on Wednesday – it was a spur of the moment decision,” she said.
“I can’t wait until tonight – it’s going to be a once in a life-time experience..
“I cannot tell you how excited I am.”
But chaotic scenes are expected at a series of checkpoints which have been set up half a mile from the Olympic Stadium.
Italian authorities have imposed super strict restrictions.
Some fans, who have purchased tickets legitimately, fear they will be turned away because they don’t have the correct paperwork.
Richard Hough, 43, a teacher from York, who has lived in Ostia, on the Roman coast, since 2008 said: “I bought my tickets off a friend in England and now I’m worried that they will be cancelled, the Italian government is cancelling the tickets of English residents so I’m bringing all the documents I’ve got to prove that I live here.
“It might be a bit chaotic with all the security checks.
“It’s usually so difficult to get tickets for England matches. It’s just fantastic to have two together and be in the quarter finals.
“The atmosphere will be quite different with Covid but just being there and trying to cheer England on and being part of it.
“Because I know people can’t go, and I’m not trying to make people at home jealous. I have already apologised in an Instagram post and said that I will be going and cheering for you.
“I will do some videos and lives.
“It would be nice if more fans could come but I’ll still support England and help them get through it.”
But they could be up against it with many Ukrainians expected in the 18,000 crowd.
The Ukraine FA’s Alex Glivinsky said: “We hope to have 6,000 fans inside the stadium.
“And we hope that the Italian fans will support us because of our manager Andriy Shevchenko.
“He was much loved and a real hero when he played in Milan and we hope the Italians will remember this.
“There is no pressure on us. All the pressure is on England who are favourites.”
Ukraine’s WAGs arrived in Italy last night with many taking a cut-price Ryanair flight to support their men against England.
They were seen pushing their suitcases to their hotels, joking that they were not getting any special treatment ahead of the big game.
England fan Josh Snitynski, 28, from Swindon, who works in software sales is coming down from Amsterdam.
He said: “I came to see England in Rome in 2017, but unfortunately the atmosphere could be a bit quieter this time. It’s a shame the fans can’t come.
“They should have moved it to London or Amsterdam where people can travel. I bought mine on Tuesday as soon as the final whistle went.
“I’m coming with six people from the Netherlands and four from Milan to cheer England on including three Brits, Dutch and Italian and a Canadian.”
Gregory Cotier, 46, has lived in Italy for 15 years and will be there cheering on England.
He said: “Whatever happens in the game, the expats here are going to represent English football in a polite, bilingual and respectful manner, the likes of which has possibly never been seen at an English match abroad before.
“I hope that we will rewrite the reputation of Brits abroad and make our mothers and our leaders proud.”