Castleford Tigers' Adam Milner inspired by England's Euro 2020 exploits
WATCHING England’s exploits at Euro 2020 has left Adam Milner wanting a piece of the action as he hopes to celebrate a Wembley victory of his own on Saturday.
The 29-year-old made his Castleford debut just over 11 years ago after coming through the academy system at Wheldon Road.
He was an 18th man when the Tigers lost the 2014 Challenge Cup final to Leeds Rhinos but is hopeful of making the squad for this weekend’s showpiece against St Helens.
A big football fan, Milner has followed England’s exploits at Euro 2020 as Gareth Southgate’s side reached the final of the competition before losing to Italy on penalties on Sunday.
However, the memorable celebrations following England’s semi-final win over Denmark has left Milner wanting to taste victory in front of 45,000 supporters on Saturday.
“To see them getting through to a final for the first time in 55 years, you have got to love what they have done and you want a piece of it,” he said.
“As a rugby player, it is the biggest occasion for many players and it gives you the chance to celebrate like England were.
“I was involved in the team in 2014 but I was 18th man, so I was gutted to miss out.
“It was the first time the club had been in a big final since 1992. You still get the taste of everything that goes on and taking that experience will put me in good stead for the weekend.”
England fans belted out Sweet Caroline following their wins over Germany and Denmark at the Euros.
The Neil Diamond classic has become synonymous with Castleford in rugby league circles since 2014 and Milner added: “Sweet Caroline blasting out makes you excited. That is what we would like to be playing in the stadium after 80 minutes next week.
“It certainly gives you a taste of it and gets you excited for hopefully getting the job done.”
Wembley will be allowed to operate at 50 per cent capacity for this weekend’s finals meaning 45,000 fans from Castleford, St Helens, Featherstone Rovers and York City Knights - with the 1895 Cup final acting as a curtain raiser - will be able to watch their sides in action.
Milner continued: “As players, that is what you dream of - having a packed-out stadium and being able to enjoy those moments.
“Personally, I have not enjoyed lockdown and not having fans at the games.
“It is harder to get up for the games but with fans slowly getting back in, it is special.
“Sport in general has struggled to engage the fans.
“I love my football and I have found it hard to watch in an empty stadium with no atmosphere. Now we are hopefully seeing the back end of it. There is a buzz again with the fans being back.”
Milner believes St Helens are the best side in the country and that a Castleford victory would highlight what the squad has been able to achieve under Powell.
“You have got to beat the best to be the best and St Helens are certainly that,” he said.
“They have proved that over the last few years. They are one of the most decorated clubs in the history of the sport and for a club like Cas to knock them off in a big final, would say something about what we have created here and what we have achieved.”