Gareth Southgate has admitted he considered his England future before and after the World Cup, but his family spurred him on. A desperate day in June 2022 – where a timid England slumped to a 4-0 defeat to Hungary in the Nations League – left Southgate wondering whether he was the right man for the job as the boos rang around Molineux.
However, after talking with his family, the 52-year-old led England to an impressive World Cup campaign, when they departed after a 2-1 defeat to France in the quarter-finals.
Southgate told ITV News: “There was negativity about me being in charge and the last thing I wanted was for that to be the overarching feeling going into a World Cup when you need the fans and everybody behind the team. You need that energy; you need that sense of togetherness.
“And if the debate was only going to be about finding flaws in what we were doing, in order that I go at the end, then that would have been very difficult for the team to perform at their best.”
England’s wretched Nations League campaign was quickly forgotten during the group stages in Qatar as they enjoyed a 6-2 win over Iran and a 3-0 victory over Wales either side of a goalless draw against the United States. A 3-0 win over Senegal in the last 16 set up a quarter-final against the defending champions, but it would end in defeat for England at Al Bayt Stadium.
“The performance against France has shown the players if they didn’t believe it before, which I still wonder whether they truly believed that before the game, but coming off the field they know that is a game they could win and should have won,” Southgate said.
After the wave of emotionfrom the World Cup exit, Southgate revealed he needed to step back and ponder his future before making a commitment to see out his contract, which runs until December 2024. His family, once again, played a key role in the decision process. “They left Doha saying you’ve got to give this one more go and try to get this trophy,” he said.
That is now the aim for Southgate as he turns his attention towards Euro 2024, with England having been drawn against Italy, Ukraine, North Macedonia and Malta in Group C of the qualifiers.
Southgate accepts football’s hard currency is too often only valued by silverware, but says there are compelling reasons to believe this generation of players could strike gold. “I’m in a job with the chance to make some history and I have the privilege of leading the national team,” he said.
“It’s been an unbelievable experience. I think we’ve made progress with the team across the years we’ve been in charge and I’m determined to try to drive the team that next step.
“We’re in a different landscape to any previous England team because of the success we’ve had. In our own minds, winning is probably the only thing that’s going to fulfil us.”