World Cup

10 times Gareth Southgate revealed himself to be the classiest man in football

Posted by
Tom Victor

The real hero of the 2018 World Cup

England might have lost to Croatia in the World Cup semi-finals, but there’s plenty to still be positive about.

We’re not just talking about their best finish in a World Cup in 28 years.

We’re not even talking about Harry Kane winning the Golden Boot, his 6 strikes putting him two ahead of his nearest rival.

No, because one of the best things to come from this World Cup is an enduring love for Gareth Southgate.

The England coach was one of those people who many had no strong opinions about before the tournament, but that’s no longer the case after he showed plenty of class in Russia this summer.

Here’s just a selection of his finest moments.

1. His hugs of consolation after the defeat to Croatia


The extra-time loss will have been devastating, but Southgate knew the last thing his players will have wanted was to feel alone. In a sport full of men reluctant to make outward displays of emotion, he knew what was needed and was not going to compromise.

2. His hugs of celebration after England’s victories


Yes, he’s a hugger, but he doesn’t just save it for the low moments. Sometimes you just need a hug – Kieran Trippier did after the win over Panama – and it takes a classy man to know when that is the case.

3. This lovely touch after the Croatia game


Sure, his own players might have been the biggest priority, but Southgate accepted England had been beaten by a team that gave everything. He knew Luka Modrić and his teammates had played well, and he wasn’t going to let bitterness stop him from congratulating them.

4. His handwritten notes to England staff

England social media man Jim Lucas shared a handwritten note Southgate provided him at the start of the World Cup. How many other coaches would be so inclusive and adopt such a personal approach to non-playing staff.

5. His refusal to rule out an England return for Joe Hart


Other coaches might have used Joe Hart’s omission from England’s 2018 World Cup squad as an excuse to end the Manchester City man’s England career then and there, but not Southgate. He publicly left the door open for Hart, who he knew will have been devastated to miss out on the tournament.

6. The way he speaks about his Middlesbrough sacking


Middlesbrough gave Southgate his first managerial job in football, but sacked him after relegation and a difficult start in the second tier. Has he held it against them? No; instead he’s even brought up his sacking as evidence of the way he’s grown and learned from his experiences.

7. His performance in that Pizza Hut advert

Rather than dwelling on his Euro ‘96 penalty miss, Southgate was able to turn a negative into a positive with his appearance in the 90s ad. And how could you not love him more after watching this?

8. Taking that Euro ‘96 penalty to begin with


Given an opportunity to take a penalty, knowing England’s record and the recriminations which could follow, Southgate put his best foot forward. It doesn’t matter that he wasn’t a regular penalty taker, he was willing to risk hurt to save his teammates from going through the same - a point acknowledged at the time by none other than Liam Gallagher.

9. Replying personally to fans who contacted him after Euro ‘96

Following that miss, there plenty will have felt as though they wanted to put an arm around Southgate, and some even wrote personal letters to him through his club Aston Villa. The fact that he took the time to reply – even apologising for taking a while – says a lot.

10. That waistcoat


And a bonus number 11….

This story:

I mean, does anything scream ‘class’ more than this? No, of course not.

Get our best stories straight to your inbox

(Images: Getty)


Share this article


Recommended by Tom Victor

  • World Cup

    Here are all the weird and funny moments from the FIFA World Cup final

    That presentation ceremony was a chaotic, hilarious mess

    Posted by
    Harvey Day
  • World Cup

    The 10 Greatest World Cup Final Goals

    Producing the goods on the biggest stage of them all

    Posted by
    Dave Fawbert
  • World Cup

    Steve McMananaman nailed his World Cup predictions

    How did he get so many right?

    Posted by
    Tom Victor
  • World Cup

    Your World Cup comedown is real, here's the psychology behind it

    What a ride it's been: but how do you go back to normality when the fun is over?

    Posted by
    Kieran Devlin
  • World Cup

    Understanding the men who are sexually attracted to Russia’s World Cup mascot

    “For a lot of furries I think it really starts with Disney"

    Posted by
    Benjamin Cook

Other people read

More from World Cup

More from Tom Victor