Southgate: People from all backgrounds have connected with this England team

By Sports Desk July 10, 2021

Gareth Southgate hopes his England team can continue to make the nation a more inclusive place for football fans of all backgrounds.

England face Italy in Sunday's Euro 2020 final at Wembley, their first appearance in a major international showpiece since beating West Germany 4-2 in the 1966 World Cup final.

The Three Lions' run to the final follows their semi-final appearance at the 2018 World Cup – a tournament that served to have a transformative effect in terms of the country's dwindling relationship with its national side.

Speaking to UK national newspapers, Southgate explained he was struck by first-hand accounts of people feeling they would be welcome at football stadiums in England after Russia 2018, having previously feared they would be victims of abuse.

"What hit me coming back from Russia was families coming up to me on the street, people coming up to me on the street from all backgrounds of our country and saying they felt they could go to a game now and not be abused at the stadium," he said. "[They could] connect with the team. They felt part of it.

"And that inclusivity is really important for us because I think that is what modern England is. We know it hasn't always been the case and there are historic reasons for that.

"But that level of tolerance and inclusion is what we have to be about moving forward."

Examples of such tolerance are easy to spot in Southgate's squad, from Raheem Sterling's work to promote racial equality, to Marcus Rashford's campaigning against child poverty which resulted in a change in the UK government's free school meals policy.

 

Jordan Henderson, the Liverpool captain, led efforts for Premier League players to support NHS workers through the #PlayersTogether initiative during the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic.

Henderson was wearing rainbow laces when he scored his long-awaited maiden England goal in the 4-0 quarter-final win over Ukraine, showing his support for the LGBTQ+ community.

"We have a view of what being English should represent and standards we want to hit," Southgate said. "You still have to win football matches. If you don't, those messages and things we stand for don't have the same impact.

"But I think we still have to be consistent in what we think is important. If we set the right standards as a group of staff, our job is to help them be the best players they can be, but also if we can help them grow as people.

"We have exceptional examples of players setting a really good example for young kids who are watching them and will aspire to be them through this tournament.

"It's important that their parents, when they are talking to those kids can say, 'We are quite happy for you to be a Raheem, a Marcus, a Kalvin Phillips' or whoever they might be because they stand for the right things off the pitch as well as on it."

Related items

  • Inaki Williams to represent Ghana, Tariq Lamptey to follow Inaki Williams to represent Ghana, Tariq Lamptey to follow

    Athletic Club's Inaki Williams announced he will opt to represent Ghana in international football on Tuesday, having previously played for Spain.

    Born in Bilbao to Ghanaian parents, Williams has made one appearance for La Roja at senior international level but in a friendly, coming on as a substitute against Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2016.

    Also part of Spain's run to the Under-21 Euro 2017 final, Williams' ability to switch allegiance falls under FIFA's eligibility rules change of 2003, when Tim Cahill opted to play for Australia after representing Western Samoa at junior level.

    Posting on social media, the 28-year-old striker believes it is an opportunity to cultivate a deeper connection to his origins.

    "Every step we take forward has its own meaning - a glance into the future which leaves a trace itself," he said. "A legacy. My parents have raised me with values based on humility, respect and love.

    "That's why I feel the moment has come for me to find my origins within myself and with Africa and Ghana which means so much to me and my family."

    At club level, Williams holds the LaLiga record for consecutive appearances at 233 games, after breaking the previous mark of 202 in October.

    Ghana Football Association president Kurt Okraku also tweeted Tariq Lamptey, Stephan Ambrosius, Patric Pfeiffer and Ransford Yeboah are all set to confirm their allegiance to the Black Stars.

    All five diaspora members could bolster Ghana's prospects at this year's World Cup, where they have been grouped with Portugal, Uruguay and South Korea.

  • Van Persie congratulates Malacia on Man Utd move, backs Netherlands international for Premier League success Van Persie congratulates Malacia on Man Utd move, backs Netherlands international for Premier League success

    Robin van Persie has congratulated Manchester United new boy Tyrell Malacia on his move to Old Trafford, predicting the left-back will build a "great connection" with his new club.

    Malacia became the first signing of the Erik ten Hag era on Tuesday, signing a four-year contract after United agreed a deal reportedly worth an initial £13m (€15.1m).

    The 22-year-old starred during Feyenoord's run to the Europa Conference League final last season, also showcasing his attacking quality by creating 1.1 open-play chances per 90 minutes in his last Eredivisie campaign.

    Van Persie, who scored 26 times during United's most recent Premier League title triumph in 2012-13, believes the Netherlands international, who he played alongside after returning to Feyenoord in 2018, will thrive at Old Trafford. 

    In a video posted to his Twitter account, Van Persie said: "Tyrell, I would like to congratulate you on your fantastic move to Manchester United, and this big moment in your career.

    "You've shown that with self-belief, talent, and hard work, day in, day out, that dreams come true.

    "To all Red Devils fans, you're not only getting a very talented full-back, but as well, a fantastic person.

    "Be nice to him, support him in good times and bad, and he will give absolutely everything for you guys. I'm sure it will be a great connection together.

    "On behalf of Feyenoord fans and Feyenoord people, thanks Tyrell for what you've done, for all these years from a young kid up until now, this fantastic moment. You are a true example for the next generation."

    Upon his unveiling as a United player, Malacia revealed Van Persie's tales of his own time in Manchester had influenced his move, telling the club's website: "I spoke in the past with Robin and I played with him, and spoke with him about his experience in Manchester.

    "Everything was good. He says they're the biggest club and the feeling was good, and he loved it here."

    Malacia is expected to compete with Luke Shaw for game-time under Ten Hag, and could make his Premier League debut when United host Brighton and Hove Albion on August 7.

  • Lukaku return gives Inter 'many solutions', says Inzaghi Lukaku return gives Inter 'many solutions', says Inzaghi

    Romelu Lukaku's return to Inter will provide the Nerazzurri with new options as they look to recover the Scudetto next season, according to head coach Simone Inzaghi, who labelled the striker's exit last year a "huge blow".

    Lukaku joined Chelsea in a club-record £97.5million deal last August, but has returned to San Siro on loan after managing just eight goals in 26 Premier League appearances for Thomas Tuchel's team.

    The Belgium international scored 64 goals in 95 games during his previous two-year spell with Inter, helping them to the Serie A title in 2020-21, and has described his Nerazzurri comeback as "like coming home".

    Inzaghi, who coached Lukaku briefly before he left for Stamford Bridge last year, says the striker will give him new tactical possibilities but remains keen to highlight the contributions made by the club's other forwards last term.

    "Last year an excellent relationship was established, which did not last long," Inzaghi recalled at a media conference to mark the beginning of Inter's pre-season. 

    "Then this year there was the possibility and the club informed me. For me it was a huge blow [to lose Lukaku last year], without forgetting that our attack was the best in Italy last year. 

     

    "Romelu is a very strong player, but I won't forget what the other forwards did last season, who were also excellent with the regret of not having won the Scudetto. This year we start again with great desire.

    "It's a bit early ... [but] I already have ideas in my head. Romelu gives us many solutions: we can recover high or low, the further forward the ball is recovered the less you have to run to score. 

    "We will have more solutions with him, while understanding that the other forwards did very well." 

    Lukaku joins a fearsome Inter attack that scored 84 goals despite missing out on the Serie A title to Milan last term, with Lautaro Martinez scoring 21 league goals and Edin Dzeko finding the net 13 times.

    And Inzaghi, who oversaw Lazio scoring 89 league goals in 2017-18 in his previous role, hopes to see one of his array of forwards win Italy's golden boot next season.

    He added: "I like that my teams score ... One year with Lazio we had the best attack, one year Immobile won the Golden Boot, last year we [Inter] had the best attack. 

    "This year we hope that one of Lukaku, Lautaro, [Joaquin] Correa and Dzeko can win the Capocannoniere."

    Lukaku is not the only addition to Inter's squad ahead of the new season, with the Nerazzurri also acquiring former Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana on a free transfer, but Inzaghi says the Cameroon international will have to wait for his chance to displace experienced number one Samir Handanovic.

    "In terms of hierarchy, Handanovic will start as the starting goalkeeper," he said. "He deserves it for the season he did last year, which was excellent. 

    "Then we all know Onana's value: he is a very young player, the goalkeeper of Inter's future and this year he will already have the opportunities to show it."

    Inter get their Serie A campaign underway with a trip to Lecce on August 13, looking to build on last season's Supercoppa Italiana and Coppa Italia successes. 

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.