Profile

Gareth Southgate: a likeable leader’s ‘quiet revolution’

England manager’s ‘DNA’ has defined the run to the Euro 2020 final

“Le jeu prudent,” was how the French newspaper L’Équipe described the emotional victory over Germany which took England to the quarter-final of the European Championships, said Barney Ronay in The Guardian. It’s a telling phrase that encapsulates the sense “not just of caution, but of a guiding wisdom” which defines both the England team and its manager.

Gareth Southgate’s conservative philosophy might be dismissed as timidity by those begging him to unleash “inside-forward hell”, but in sticking to his guns and letting his natural caution prevail, the England manager is leading his own “quiet revolution”. 

And those “ruthless but never reckless” instincts were thoroughly vindicated in Saturday’s 4-0 quarter-final defeat of Ukraine, when the first priority was once again solidity in defence, said Dave Kidd in The Sun. Indeed, the fact that England have only conceded one goal - the superb free-kick by Denmark’s Mikkel Damsgaard in the 2-1 semi-final win - shows that Southgate’s team has evolved into a stronger unit than it was when he led them to the last four of the 2018 Fifa World Cup. 

Ignoring mounting calls for them to be dropped, he has stuck by players he trusts in – Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane, Harry Maguire, Jordan Henderson – while developing “myriad attacking options”. And now the team reflects the qualities of its patient, likeable leader. 

The bright boy who grew up in Crawley, West Sussex, didn’t seem destined for a football career, said Paul Byrne in The Mirror. His teachers thought his future lay in accountancy or journalism. Even when apprenticed at Crystal Palace, he was advised by his coach, Alan Smith, to become a travel agent. However Smith still made him first-team captain, and Southgate went on to enjoy a 57-cap international career. 

Southgate missed a penalty in the Euro 96 shoot-out defeat against Germany

Southgate missed a penalty in the Euro 96 shoot-out defeat against Germany

Getty Images

The dominant memory many fans have of him as a footballer is the missed penalty against Germany that kept England out of the Euro 96 final – plus the Pizza Hut advert it inspired. Yet that failure was “the making” of Southgate, said Matthew Syed in The Times: it forged in him the resilience that he now inspires in others. 

It is Southgate’s own “DNA” that has defined England’s run to the Euro 2020 final, said Mark Critchley in The Independent. And in particular it is his unusual openness to new ideas – evident during his tenure as manager of Middlesbrough and during his subsequent stewardship of the England Under-21s – that has informed his long-term overhaul of England’s national set-up. 

Another component of that DNA is the “decency” and “common sense” that has proved him right on so many things, said Martin Samuel in the Daily Mail. His just reward was to be the first England men’s manager to reach consecutive major tournament semi-finals since Sir Alf Ramsey in 1968 - and now the first major men’s tournament final for 55 years, where they face Italy on Sunday.

In the semi-final win against Denmark Southgate stayed “true to himself” and calmly controlled England’s destiny, said The Guardian’s Jacob Steinberg. Going a goal down at Wembley and then the game going to extra time, “without bellowing nor rage the manager plotted a route back into the semi-final and now the Euro 2020 final awaits”.

Recommended

Should Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs be left in the 1930s?
Peter Dinklage
In Depth

Should Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs be left in the 1930s?

A guide to the 2022 Six Nations
Wales celebrate winning the Six Nations in 2021
In Depth

A guide to the 2022 Six Nations

Africa Cup of Nations: eight killed after stampede in Cameroon
The scene of the stampede at Olembe Stadium in Yaoundé, Cameroon 
The latest on . . .

Africa Cup of Nations: eight killed after stampede in Cameroon

English football fan disorder ‘getting worse’
Aston Villa’s Matty Cash and Lucas Digne were struck by a bottle at Goodison Park
In Focus

English football fan disorder ‘getting worse’

More on Gareth Southgate

England vs. USA: Wayne Rooney’s farewell divides nation
Wayne Rooney will win his 120th, and final, cap for England at Wembley
In Review
15 Nov 2018

England vs. USA: Wayne Rooney’s farewell divides nation

Three Lions’s all-time top scorer will come on as sub at Wembley tonight
England squad: Callum Wilson called up for US and Croatia matches
AFC Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson is selected in the England senior squad for the first time
In Brief
8 Nov 2018

England squad: Callum Wilson called up for US and Croatia matches

Gareth Southgate says Wayne Rooney has earned the right to win his 120th cap
Wayne Rooney debate: should he play again for England?
Wayne Rooney scored a record 53 goals in 119 appearances for England
In Brief
5 Nov 2018

Wayne Rooney debate: should he play again for England?

Three Lions’s record goalscorer is set to make a farewell appearance at Wembley
Spain 2 England 3: player and fan reactions, headlines and best tweets
Raheem Sterling scores England’s first goal in their 3-2 win in Spain
In Brief
16 Oct 2018

Spain 2 England 3: player and fan reactions, headlines and best tweets

Raheem Sterling ends his goal drought as the young Three Lions win in Seville
Uefa Nations League: Spain vs. England team news, possible starting XIs, TV channel
Spain captain Sergio Ramos will go up against England striker Harry Kane
In Review
15 Oct 2018

Uefa Nations League: Spain vs. England team news, possible starting XIs, TV channel

Spain star Sergio Ramos is impressed by England captain Harry Kane
Squad announcements: England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland
Gareth Southgate England football
In Brief
4 Oct 2018

Squad announcements: England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland

England boss Southgate signs contract extension and hands first senior call-ups to Maddison, Sancho and Mount
Gareth Southgate’s new deal: England boss rewarded for World Cup run
Gareth Southgate led England to the semi-finals of the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia
In Brief
27 Sep 2018

Gareth Southgate’s new deal: England boss rewarded for World Cup run

FA to offer improved £3m-a-year contract to head coach amid interest from clubs
England 1 Switzerland 0: Marcus Rashford will be a ‘top player’ says Gareth Southgate
Marcus Rashford England 1 Switzerland 0 Leicester
In Brief
12 Sep 2018

England 1 Switzerland 0: Marcus Rashford will be a ‘top player’ says Gareth Southgate

Man Utd striker scores the winner as England recover from ‘embarrassing’ first-half display in Leicester
England vs. Switzerland: Harry Kane rested, Eric Dier to be captain
England vs. Switzerland Harry Kane Eric Dier
In Review
11 Sep 2018

England vs. Switzerland: Harry Kane rested, Eric Dier to be captain

Gareth Southgate making number of changes for the friendly in Leicester
England vs. Spain: team news, predicted starting XIs, TV channel
Dele Alli England football
In Review
7 Sep 2018

England vs. Spain: team news, predicted starting XIs, TV channel

Three Lions star Dele Alli has his sights set on winning Euro 2020
England squad named: Luke Shaw in, Ashley Young out
England squad Luke Shaw
In Brief
30 Aug 2018

England squad named: Luke Shaw in, Ashley Young out

Gareth Southgate reveals 23-man line-up for September double-header
England football squad: no selection for Jamie Vardy and Gary Cahill
Jamie Vardy England football squad
In Brief
29 Aug 2018

England football squad: no selection for Jamie Vardy and Gary Cahill

Three Lions take on Spain and Switzerland in September
England prepare 2030 World Cup bid and new contract for Gareth Southgate
Gareth Southgate led England to the semi-finals of the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia
In Brief
2 Aug 2018

England prepare 2030 World Cup bid and new contract for Gareth Southgate

Three Lions boss will be offered the chance to lead the nation beyond 2020
Will England’s World Cup semi-final be a poisoned chalice?
England World Cup
In Depth
17 Jul 2018

Will England’s World Cup semi-final be a poisoned chalice?

England’s run to the last four captivated the nation, but history suggests it could be a one-off
London tube station renamed ‘Gareth Southgate’
southgate.jpg
In Brief
16 Jul 2018

London tube station renamed ‘Gareth Southgate’

Piccadilly line station fitted with new signage to honour England manager
World Cup play-off: Belgium vs. England team news, predictions, odds, TV channel
Belgium vs. England World Cup play off Eden Hazard Harry Kane
In Review
13 Jul 2018

World Cup play-off: Belgium vs. England team news, predictions, odds, TV channel

Can Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions leave Russia on a high?
It’s not coming home: reaction to England’s World Cup heartbreak
England Croatia World Cup semi-final
In Depth
12 Jul 2018

It’s not coming home: reaction to England’s World Cup heartbreak

Dream is over following defeat to Croatia but there are positives to take from Three Lions’ run to the semi-finals
World Cup: Croatia break England hearts to reach the final
Mario Mandzukic Croatia 2 England 1 World Cup
In Brief
11 Jul 2018

World Cup: Croatia break England hearts to reach the final

Croatia will now play France but Gareth Southgate is ‘remarkably proud’ of his young Three Lions
‘Waistcoat Wednesday’, ‘It’s coming home’ and Harry Maguire best memes and tweets
England World Cup Waistcoat Wednesday it’s coming home
In Brief
11 Jul 2018

‘Waistcoat Wednesday’, ‘It’s coming home’ and Harry Maguire best memes and tweets

Have England and the Three Lions fans already won the social media World Cup?
‘3 Lions on our shirts’: newspaper headlines ahead of Croatia vs. England
England captain Harry Kane won the 2018 Fifa World Cup golden boot
In Brief
11 Jul 2018

‘3 Lions on our shirts’: newspaper headlines ahead of Croatia vs. England

Gareth Southgate urges his England team to keep their World Cup run going and reach Sunday’s final
World Cup semi-final: Croatia vs. England starting XIs, predictions, betting odds, TV
World Cup semi-final Croatia vs. England
In Review
10 Jul 2018

World Cup semi-final: Croatia vs. England starting XIs, predictions, betting odds, TV

Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions face the biggest match of their careers
England’s run to the World Cup semi-finals makes headline news
Leicester City and England defender Harry Maguire looks set to sign for Manchester United
In Brief
8 Jul 2018

England’s run to the World Cup semi-finals makes headline news

Gareth Southgate’s side dominate the newspaper front and back pages
Reaction: England reach the World Cup semi-finals
Sweden 0 England 2 2018 World Cup
In Depth
7 Jul 2018

Reaction: England reach the World Cup semi-finals

Media pundits give their verdict as the Three Lions beat Sweden 2-0
World Cup: Sweden vs. England team news, predictions, betting odds and TV channel
Sweden vs. England World Cup quarter-final
In Review
6 Jul 2018

World Cup: Sweden vs. England team news, predictions, betting odds and TV channel

Gareth Southgate warns not to underestimate ‘more experienced’ Swedish side
The Week Footer Banner