Honestly, after I led England to the semifinal, everyone in the United Kingdom was trying to buy a waistcoat. People even compare me to the 1966 England World Cup winning coach Sir Alf Ramsey. I never thought I could get this much attention in my career.
I was not ready for the praises from the media, and I just wanted to focus on my job. However, it is not too bad that British people are trying to copy my style.The redemption
About two years ago, when the FA announced that I would replace Sam Allardyce as the coach of England, people thought I would just be an interim coach for the team and they did not expect this England team to be great.
I was known for my missed penalty in the 1996 Euro and Middlesbrough’s relegation with me as the coach. This is understandable. I was never a top player in my senior career. I played as a center back for Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough. The only trophies I have won were the League Cup with Aston Villa and Middlesbrough.
I appeared more than 50 times for England, but people could only remember the time I a missed penalty against Germany in the 1996 Euro. It was the semifinal. Nobody missed the penalty in the first five rounds of the shootout. When it was my turn, I missed. Linked with Manchester United
In 2004, Rio Ferdinand was tested positive, and the rumors said Manchester United wanted me to replace Ferdinand. That was the only time I was associated with a top club. I was excited, because I am a Manchester United fan. However, it did not happen. I could understand. Maybe I would never join a top club, and I would just retire at Middlesbrough. I lost my last game in my senior career, when Middlesbrough lost to Sevilla 0-4 in the final of the UEFA Cup.
I retired after that game, and I replaced Steve McClaren as the coach of Middlesbrough. However, I was never Pep Guardiola or Zinedine Zidane. I coached the team for three years, and the team was relegated from the Premier League.
If Allardyce did not mess up, I would just happily be the coach of England’s U21 team. I never thought I could coach the senior England team.
Just a little work
Southgate Underground tube station on the Piccadilly Line in Enfield has been rebranded with Gareth Southgate's name by TFL on July 16, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Neil P. Mockford/Getty Images)
Honestly, I was never ready for the whole country backing me up. I just did a little work, and I am still learning.
People who know British media would know that they would either like somebody or criticize somebody. According to my understanding, those England squads that the media loved before could never make it to the end. Thus, I would just select a squad that no one loves.
Jordan Pickford, Harry Maguire and Kieran Trippier were playing in the EFL Championship or even worse leagues few years ago. These players were selected and even starting for England. I never played for a top club either, so I know them the best. They made their ways to the top stages, so they have a better mentality than those star players do.
Pickford’s performance in the shootout against Colombia and saves against Sweden are world class. Maguire and Trippier also destroyed Sweden both offensively and defensively.
Not only do I have those three players, but I also have Jordan Henderson, Dele Alli, Jessie Lingard, Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane. These players were also not stars from the beginning. Afraid of listening to “It’s coming home”
Honestly, I am always afraid of listening to “It’s coming home” after going through the shootout in 1996. Now the media praises me, but I was the one to be blamed in 1996.
England was the host of the 1996 European Championships, and it was 30 years after we won the World Cup. The whole nation was supposedly believing England would win the championship at home. A song called “It’s coming home” was written at that time.
However, nothing should happen supposedly. Football did not come home; we came home. We played against Germany in the semifinal. The media was writing about the rivalry between Germany and England, and they thought England could teach Germany a lesson this time. Actually, we almost did. Paul Gascoigne almost scored a golden goal in the extra time.
Alan Shearer, who was at his peak, scored the first goal of the game at the third minute, but we never thought Germany could tie it up at the 16th minute. The score did not change again for the rest of the game. It had to let penalties decide.My missed penalty
No one missed a penalty in the first five rounds. I was the sixth penalty taker for England. It was my turn. My shot was too soft and was saved by Andreas Köpke. Germany did not miss its chance to finish the game. They scored their next penalty, winning the shootout.
The game was heated up so much by the media before the kickoff, and I was the only one to be blamed.
People know how much pressure David Beckham had after he got the red card in the World Cup. I can understand how it feels for Beckham. Every time I listened to “It’s coming home”, I could see my missed penalty.
Yes, British media culture is not great. They either like you, or they criticize you. I do not want my players to play under tremendous pressure from the media, and I do not want to be criticized either when my magic is not there anymore.
I am not at the top of my world yet; it felt great when the fans clapped the team after we lost to Croatia. The only thing we can do now is to learn more and get better.
I am Gareth Southgate. I was an average player and a dedicated learner as a coach. This is my story.
MOSCOW, July 17, 2018 - I am Gareth Southgate, and I am here to tell my story.