Southgate happy to continue ‘incredible experience’ with England

Date published: Monday 22nd November 2021 2:18 - News Desk

Gareth Southgate is happy to extend his “incredible experience” with England as he hopes to make “more memories” over the next couple of years.

The 51-year-old’s deal was set to expire at the end of next year’s World Cup in Qatar. But his and Steve Holland’s contracts have now been extended until 2024.

Speaking at a media conference on Monday, Southgate said: “I’d like to say how excited we are, the last five years have been an incredible experience.

International football should not have a roped-off VIP area

“We can see what’s possible with the existing squad and some of the players coming through our age-group teams. We are grateful for the support of the FA. We felt it was important to qualify (before signing) so there was no question on focus. We are looking forward to the next few years to make some new memories.”

It is reward for the great strides England have made under Southgate, who later this month will celebrate five years in charge of the national team.

During that time the former Middlesbrough boss has led the Three Lions to a first World Cup semi-final since 1990, a third-placed finish in the Nations League and the final of the European Championship for the first time.

Asked if his team would reach its peak under his charge, Southgate added: “I think what you hope, you want sustained success and when you look at the top nations who’ve won over years and years, Germany, Italy, France… they have odd fallow years but are generally contending for major tournaments.

“We have to make sure the team constantly evolves. We are now in a group of teams we believe can genuinely challenge. Six, seven years ago we went with hope, but now we can be genuinely positive. We know expectation is higher but that’s good, the team is better than they were three years ago.”

Gareth Southgate and Steve Holland

Southgate signed his new deal amid a period of time that had seen a number of Premier League managers lose their jobs, but the former Middlesbrough boss said he was happy with his role.

He said: “We had already agreed (to stay before the international break), but the conversations with (The FA), we knew what we wanted to do. Sometimes people are looking what’s next in life and their career, and don’t live a fulfilling life where you are.

“When you’ve done work culturally and where they can challenge (for titles), you want to bring that to fruition. We’ve only won one World Cup but we have to believe that’s possible, it’s an aim we have as a team.

“To step away when we think the next few years could have been exciting, that could be difficult to live with. If this contract is the last, I will only be 53 at the end of it and I hope there’ll be a lot of my life at the end of it!”

On whether it will be his last England deal, he said: “We have only just agreed to stay. We are always thinking about what’s next but we have only just agreed to stay! If we are in a position where it’s my decision to make in three years, we’ll be in a place where we’ve done a good job.”

Should Southgate see out his new deal, he will have been national team manager for over eight years.

Asked how he would feel to serve as long as greats such as Sir Bobby Robson and Sir Alf Ramsey, Southgate said: “I think that England has been a massive part of my life, supporter, player, under-21 manager and now manager and the people you’re talking about, I’ve always been aware of the history.

“The tournaments and big matches are what inspired me as a kid and to be able to connect people to that has been very, very special and the team can still improve, want to improve.”

Football Association chief executive Mark Bullingham said: “Gareth and Steve have built a really strong culture with the players and support team and are best placed to take this young team forward.

“The success comes with revised expectations. We used to celebrate qualifying, now we expect to reach the latter stages.

“People will ask how we can afford this, but I will say this is a performance-related rise. Gareth and Steve care about the organisation. We are delighted Gareth and Steve have chosen to continue.”

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