Friday, July 23, 2021

Southgate a leader of great men and national treasure, says Neville

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 15 Jul 2021

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Phil Neville has labelled Gareth Southgate a “leader of great men” and “national treasure” following England’s run to the Euro 2020 final.

Southgate led the Three Lions to their first major tournament final in 55 years, where they suffered penalty shoot-out heartbreak against Italy at Wembley.

It also represented England’s best performance in the competition as they topped Group D before overcoming rivals Germany 2-0 in the round of 16.

They then put four past Ukraine in the quarter-finals, while Harry Kane’s extra-time penalty secured a 2-1 win over Denmark in the last four.

Ex-England defender Neville, who guided England Women to the 2019 World Cup semi-finals, played alongside Southgate at Euro 96 as Terry Venables’ side reached the semi-finals.

They also formed part of Kevin Keegan’s squad that were knocked out in the group stages at Euro 2000.

And the Inter Miami head coach has hailed the achievements of his former team-mate, who is currently contracted until after the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

“Gareth Southgate is a leader of great men,” he said. “Why is he a leader of great men? Because he can connect with people.

“He connected a footballing set of supporters and team that probably didn’t like each other for a long period of time – and I experienced that as a player.

“I played in England teams where we didn’t have cohesion, team spirit, togetherness, and that’s why we always failed.

“Now, everybody wants to play for England, everybody wants to support England. The joy which you saw in that stadium was like nothing I’ve ever seen in my life.

“I think Gareth is a national treasure and Gareth should be someone that the FA needs to keep well beyond his term as manager.

“He’s someone that can really help shape English football.”

But it is not only Southgate who has impressed Neville.

The former Manchester United and Everton defender also highlighted the positive impact the players have had on the nation – both on and off the pitch. 

And he sees a bright future for the Three Lions.

“They’ve got something that’s really, really special at this moment in time,” Neville added.

“They’ve got a group of young players that are not only great footballers, but great ambassadors for our country.

“Players that are putting our politicians to shame, players that speak with great empathy and humility; a leader that does the same.

“The players are going out into communities and feeding sick children, giving life to inner-city areas that they probably didn’t have when they were growing up.

“They’re national treasures because of how they behave in life, how they behave with each other but, more importantly, they’re great ambassadors for our country – and that’s what Gareth Southgate is as well.”

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