Festivities are in full swing as fans savour the run-up to England’s bid for Euros success, with the atmosphere branded “like Christmas – if Christmas came around every 55 years”.
Crowds of supporters in high spirits are gathering in pubs across the country, with fans arriving en masse in London several hours ahead of Sunday night’s kick-off.
Revellers wearing team shirts, with faces painted in red and white and draped in the country’s flag, have been partying outside Wembley.
Beach balls were thrown and, as excitement grew, some fans climbed on top of a bus outside the stadium, and scaled signposts and traffic lights in other areas of the capital.
Supporters near the Trafalgar Square fan zone said “history can be made” in the match against Italy.
Ross Belton, 22, from Crawley, west Sussex, said any future nuptials would have to be “pretty special” to top Sunday’s feeling.
He said: “This is by far one of the biggest sporting days in my lifetime, I can’t think of anything that really comes close.
“If I ever get married it’ll have to be a pretty special service to top the feeling I have right now!”
Another fan, named Paul, said: “History can be made tonight, everyone has to make the most of it because we may never see it again.
The 42-year-old electrician from Camden, north London, added: “It’s like Christmas, if Christmas came around every 55 years – live in the moment and celebrate like mad if we win.”
Many pubs and venues near Trafalgar Square are fully booked, with supporters being turned away, while those inside could be seen doing shots and blaring air horns.
Neil James, 32, from Horsham, Surrey, said: “I’m so fortunate to be here, I never thought I’d see anything like this in my lifetime.
“I can’t even comprehend the idea England could win something, I just want to drink and drink tonight, work tomorrow is on the back burner.
“It’s all about tonight.”
Police could be seen on horseback close to Trafalgar Square.
In a warning ahead of the match, the Metropolitan Police urged fans not to come to London unless they had match tickets or somewhere booked to watch the game.
The force said it would be deploying “a great many officers and specialist units to prevent crime and disorder and respond to any incidents right across London”.