Jude Bellingham sealed a glorious return to Dortmund and insisted that England’s ability to surge through to the Euro 2024 final had been forged through their setbacks in the early stages of the tournament.

The 21-year-old spent three years with Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga before moving on to join Real Madrid in a big money deal last year.

And the midfielder believes the criticism they faced in the group phase then in the wake of a fortunate escape against Slovakia in the last 16 has left them better-equipped to cope at the business-end of the tournament.

England v Netherlands – UEFA Euro 2024 – Semi Final – BVB Stadion Dortmund
Jude Bellingham marked a victorious return to the home of his former club in Dortmund (Nick Potts/PA)

Bellingham told ITV: “To be back here at this club that helped turned me into the man and the player I am and I’m really grateful so it’s really nice to do it here in that sense, it’s special, but more it’s important to come out with a win.

“Finding a way, that character, mentality, attitude of anyone can win us the game if they’re given us the chance and Ollie came on today and did that, and I’m grateful because I don’t know if I had another half-hour in me.

“I think it’s something that’s built through failure, through the first few games that didn’t go so well. There’s criticism when you don’t play well, it’s important that you build that fire, you build that resistance, understand that you can do better.

England v Netherlands – UEFA Euro 2024 – Semi Final – BVB Stadion Dortmund
Jude Bellingham, left, gave chase after Ollie Watkins sealed England’s dramatic win (Adam Davy/PA)

“In these games we come together like no other team and we’ve done it again.”

England looked a different team for much of the match to the side that had struggled through the group stages, following a sluggish opening win over Serbia with successive draws against Denmark and Slovenia.

And it was Bellingham who got his side out of a deeper hole in their last 16 clash with Slovakia with his last-gasp overhead kick to level matters and set them up for victory in the extra period.

They marginally improved again against Switzerland in the last eight and when asked if England were now playing with greater freedom, Bellingham added: “I think time does that as well. These moments are great, it brings us together as a team, as a family, something we have in common being here another day, it means we live through these moments together and because of that you get stronger.

“These moments definitely make us stronger, they make us more together and we take that into the final now.

“(Spain) have looked amazing, they’ve looked really good but it’s a one-off game and anything can happen. We know our weapons, we’ll do the right analysis, we’ll sit down and watch them and understand how they play as well. A great team with weapons of their own so it will be interesting to go toe-to-toe with them.”

England v Netherlands – UEFA Euro 2024 – Semi Final – BVB Stadion Dortmund
Harry Kane hauled England level from the penalty spot (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Harry Kane got England back into the match with his first-half penalty and can now look forward to becoming the first England captain to lead his team out in a major final on foreign soil on Sunday.

Kane was replaced by Watkins and watched from the bench as the Aston Villa man, a surprise selection in the squad for some, snatched his chance superbly to seal England’s place in back-to-back finals.

Kane told ITV: “History made, an amazing achievement. I’m proud of every single player, every single member of staff, everyone, I’m so proud.

“It’s been a really difficult tournament, but to do what we’ve done away from home is a special feeling. There’s one more left and we need to get that one on Sunday.

“We talk about being ready. We’re big in the team on being ready when it matters. It might be five minutes, you might get one minute but you can make a difference, you can win the tournament. Ollie’s been patient but what a finish, I’m so happy. He deserves it and we need everyone again on Sunday.

England v Netherlands – UEFA Euro 2024 – Semi Final – BVB Stadion Dortmund
Harry Kane expressed pride in his England team-mates after their latest win (Bradley Collyer/PA)

“I think we were the better team, especially in the first half. We had a lot of control and even at 1-0 down we were patient, we stayed calm. In the second half there were some tired legs, but overall I thought we deserved to win the game and with a finish like that we deserved it.”

Asked about the penalty decision, Kane added: “I don’t know, but my foot was hanging off so he definitely caught me. Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don’t. I was happy to step up and to see it go in the net was a nice feeling for sure. I’m just happy to be through to the final.

“(Spain will be) an unbelievably tough game, really difficult, but we’re there, we’ve got to the final. It’s one more game to make history and that’s what we’re excited about. It’s been a tough journey.

“One more, 90 minutes, 120 minutes, penalties, whatever it takes we’ll be there and we’re looking forward to it.”