Harry Maguire Kalvin Phillips, John Stones and Kyle Walker have all played big parts as the Three Lions reached the European Championship final for the first time.
Born: Sheffield, March 5, 1993
Played for: Sheffield United and Hull City
Centre-back Maguire started at Barnsley's academy but when the Reds went into administration he moved to Sheffield United.
Maguire caught the eye of Sir Alex Ferguson in the 2011 Youth Cup final, which he ended in hospital with concussion after playing for the Blades against Manchester United. Days later,
Ferguson rang Maguire to tell him if he continued to work hard, he would have a big future in the game and so it proved.
Maguire had recently made his Championship debut but the Blades soon dropped into League One. He impressed enough to make £2.5m move to Hull three years later eventually forcing his way past Curtis Davies and Michael Dawson to play Premier League football.
When the Tigers were relegated, Maguire joined Leicester City, then Manchester United as the world's most expensive defender and six months later, their captain.
At one point it looked like Maguire might miss the tournament after injuring his ankle ligaments in May, ruling him out of the Europa League final but Southgate wanted a key component of his 2018 World Cup semi-final team enough to wait, and Maguire's tournament began in the final group game, against Czech Republic.
Maguire slotted in seamlessly and has played every minute since, making an already solid defence more commanding and bringing extra dimensions with the way he carries the ball out of defence, and at attacking set-pieces. He headed in a Luke Shaw free-kick against Ukraine.
Born: Leeds, December 2, 1995
Plays for: Leeds United
Part of Leeds's academy since he joined from Wortley aged 14, his talents have long been appreciated around Elland Road but Phillips has been the revelation of the tournament from an English perspective.
The biggest contribution Neil Redfearn made as Whites manager was in giving the midfielder he had worked with in the academy his first-team debut in 2015.
Phillips scored in his second game but when Redfearn was sacked shortly afterwards, he found the next 12 months tougher until Garry Monk's appointment.
As for so many at the club, though, it was Marcelo Bielsa's arrival as coach that transformed him, the Argentinian changing Phillips from a box-to-box midfielder to a deep-lying playmaker also capable of playing centre-back affectionately dubbed "the Yorkshire Pirlo" in recognition of his new style Southgate had intended to pick Phillips for England's March 2020 friendlies which never happened because of Covid-19 despite still being a Championship player and although Leeds had won promotion when he did make his international debut, they were yet to play in the top-flight again.
Phillips was a Three Lions regular last season but still his performance in the opening game of Euro 2020 was a revelation which set the tone for his tournament. Playing in a role more like his pre-Bielsa one, he was the star of a midfield also featuring Croatia's Luka Modric, and set up England's only goal.
The only minutes Phillips missed en route to the final were to protect from a suspension-drawing second yellow card when the quarter-final against Ukraine was won and it is noticeable that when Jordan Henderson has been introduced from the bench it has normally been for Declan Rice, with Phillips dropping into his Leeds position.
Born: Barnsley, May 28, 1994
Played for: Barnsley
John Stones is the centre-back whose courage on the ball sometimes puts the heebie-jeebies up others, but a player Southgate has put trusted in three consecutive semi-finals. That said, there was a period after the 2019 Nation League where even he and Pep Guardiola seemed to waver, only for Stones to win them over.
A product of Penistone Church, Stones joined Barnsley as an eight-year-old and was encouraged from the outset to trust his talent. At many clubs he would either have been abandoned as a liability or more likely turned into a midfielder.
Stones's senior career was brief at Oakwell simply because a player of that talent was always going to be hard to keep and David Moyes, who has always mined the Football League effectively, took him to Everton for £3m in 2013. They sold him to Manchester City three years later for £47.5m. The price made criticism from those nervous of Stones's risk-taking that much stronger.
A fixture in the 2018 World Cup back three, Stones lost his place with club and country after a costly mistake in the Nations League semi-final but an outstanding club partnership with Ruben Dias last season saw him recalled by England.
The most pleasing thing for Stones's critics will be that the ever-present has had a low-key tournament to date. His best game was against Scotland, where only he and partner Tyrone Mings emerged with great credit from a disappointing team performance, and the Yorkshireman hit the woodwork with a first-half header.
Born: Sheffield, May 28, 1990
Played for: Sheffield United
Like Stones, the oldest member of England's squad at just 31 appeared to have fallen out of international favour after the Nations League only to produce performances for Manchester City which could not be ignored.
Like Stones and Maguire, Walker joined his boyhood club at a young age (seven) but played very little for them before it became clear he was too good for their level. Most of his Blades appearances came on loan after joining Tottenham Hotspur, where Mauricio Pochettino turned him into an outstanding attacking full-back.
At his next club, Manchester City, Pep Guardiola focused more on Walker's defensive qualities and it was as a third central defender that he was a mainstay in the 2018 World Cup squad.
He invariably plays as a right-back at club level, but often shuffles into a back three when they are in possession.
Walker's pace is his outstanding quality and it has been on display in this tournament, where he has played in both positions. He had a few hairy moments in the opening game against Croatia but it was his wonderful ball Phillips turned inside for the goal and he was the outstanding player of the semi-final win over Denmark.
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