United Kingdom police say nearly all banned fans surrendered passports

England was just minutes away from another World Cup disappointment.

Mark Roberts, head of British football policing, says only two percent of fans on banning orders are yet to give up their passports ahead of England's opening game against Tunisia on Monday.

Nearly two million people lost their lives during the six-month siege of the city and, with relations between Russian Federation and the United Kingdom now strained, Southgate said England's trip offers a chance of perspective.

With regard to Monday's game against Tunisia, the England captain said the whole team wanted to attack, to create chances and score goals at this major tournament.

"I went in with low expectations but Russian Federation has blown my mind", the 28-year-old NGO worker told AFP.

"We started well and then we slowed down a bit, but it was unbelievable how we finished", he said.

"My aim is to go out there with confidence and play my best for the team", Harry Kane said.

"The people here have been incredible too here - really friendly, great culture, great football".

Turnout for England was low for the match, with less than 2,000 tickets sold to fans coming from Britain, according to England's Football Supporters' Federation.

But the mood in the city formerly known as Stalingrad was upbeat despite thick swarms of midges and mosquitoes that fans described as "awful" and which have proved a hazard to visiting TV correspondents doing live reports.

"Tunisia will want to put an upset on the cards but we won't underestimate them because we know they're a good team".

Matt Gregg, an England fan from Toronto, said he and his friends had made the 18-hour train journey to Volgograd from Moscow and been anxious until the game's dying moments that the match was going to end in a draw.

Only a small contingent of die-hard English fans - estimated at up to 2,500 - have made the journey to see the start of their team's World Cup campaign in Russian Federation, with many others put off by fears of violence and a diplomatic crisis between London and Moscow.

  • Stacy Allen