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´Proud´ Southgate feels he has proved a point

Gareth Southgate still would not express his wish to be given the England job on a permanent basis following Tuesday’s 2-2 friendly draw with Spain.

The former Middlesbrough boss guided England to seven points from three World Cup qualifiers – including a 3-0 victory over fierce rivals Scotland – before a dramatic late Spain comeback at Wembley denied him a third win from four.

Iago Aspas and Isco scored in the 89th and 96th minutes to leave Southgate disappointed and, although the 46-year-old seems a certainty to be the next full-time England manager, he maintained his stance of refusing to lay bare his own ambitions.

“I’ve loved doing it, but that’s not my decision,” he told ITV Sport.

“I’m proud of what we’ve done with the team. We were asked to take over in a temporary measure and tonight’s performance was very special.

“[I’ve proved that] I can handle big occasions. I know myself pretty well but until you’re thrown into matches like last Friday [against Scotland] under intense pressure and tactical challenges like [against Spain], you’re never sure how it’s going to be.

“I’ve loved the experience and I’m pleased that the remit we’ve been given we’ve fulfilled.”

Asked when a final decision would be made by the Football Association on Sam Allardyce’s long-term successor, Southgate replied: “I’ve no idea.

“We’ve got an Under-21 Euro finals to prepare for, the draw’s in December and I need to know where to park my car from now on as well!”

England had led through Adam Lallana’s early penalty and Jamie Vardy’s diving header, before Spain grew into the contest throughout the second half and snatched a draw courtesy of their dramatic comeback.

Isco’s equaliser arrived in the sixth minute of stoppage time when only five had been signalled, but Southgate felt his players would learn more from the draw than in victory.

“It was a fantastic performance, a fantastic effort, I was so pleased with how we pressed and at times used the ball well,” he said.

“Maybe as the second half wore on we started to tire and that’s where keeping the ball better will allow us to conserve energy.

“But we played one of the best teams in world football, the test was phenomenal and I couldn’t ask for any more of them.

“It’s pointless worrying about that [extra stoppage time], maybe in the end not winning a game like that will be better for us, but I couldn’t be prouder.”

Tue 15 Nov, 2016
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