Gareth Southgate’s FIFA World Cup™ playing experiences are about as challenging as they come. Making his global finals debut against Tunisia at France 1998, he went on to miss games through injury, come on as a substitute in a huge knockout match in which he experienced extra time and a penalty shootout defeat before heading to Korea/Japan in 2002 and spending the tournament as an unused substitute.
You might say, therefore, that he is perfectly placed to manage a squad of players who are likely to face plenty of their own challenges in a few months’ time. Having taken the job in November 2016 as England’s third manager in a matter of months, Southgate steered his nation to Russia 2018 with an unbeaten qualifying campaign, finishing top of Europe’s Group F.
A twist of fate at the Final Draw means Southgate will make his World Cup coaching debut against Tunisia, with Panama and Belgium their other Group G opponents. The former defender, who appeared 57 times for his country, spoke exclusively to FIFA.com as his preparations for Russia entered their final stages.
Having played his part at France 1998 before being an unused substitute at Korea/Japan 2002, Gareth Southgate’s wide range of FIFA World Cup™ playing experiences tee him up perfectly to manage his country at Russia 2018. Southgate guided the Three Lions to the global finals with an undefeated qualifying record after taking over in November 2016. He spoke exclusively with FIFA.com as his preparations for Russia entered their final stages.
“We don’t want to inhibit people’s beliefs. With the players we’ve got to get the right balance of recognising there is still some learning to do, but not putting a ceiling on what they think is possible.”
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