England’s Gareth Southgate reveals agony of losing to Italy

Gareth Southgate

Manager Gareth Southgate.

English manager Gareth Southgate has likened losing to Italy to having his stomach muscles “ripped out”. He also took full responsibility for losing on penalties.

Speaking at a post-match press conference in London this morning, Southgate said the pain of losing was visceral but that it is all part of a learning curve for the English side.

“Most teams that win, France went through what we’re feeling now in 2016. Spain did it before they won. It’s normally part of the process you have to go through. The fact we’ve had the first signs of some consistency – semi-final, final – that has to be the right direction,” he said.

“When you get so close it’s more painful of course. It feels like my stomach’s been ripped out this morning. But I know that is the process we have to go through, and England have to keep that track going, whoever’s here, whoever’s at the FA.

“We have got to qualify for Qatar but I need some time to go away and watch the game and reflect on the whole tournament, I need a rest. It is amazing experience but to lead your country in these tournaments takes its toll and I need a break now,” he said.

“I think we’ve been a beacon of light in bringing people together, in people being able to relate to the national team, and the national team stands for everybody. That togetherness must continue. We’ve shown the power the country has when we do come together. I’m incredibly proud of the players, and the game, we needed to win in 120 minutes. We were a little bit short in that period.

Southgate said he takes full responsibility for the defeat.

“It’s my decision who takes the penalties, it’s not more experienced players backing out, they didn’t have the chance. It was my decision. I’ve still got huge belief in them. Those boys have done a brilliant job. We heal together as a team now. We’re here for them, and I know 99 per cent of the public will be as well,” he said.

“We’ve waited for a long time to make playing for England fun, to make it enjoyable. I think our players now have that. When they come away with England. I think they’ve had a fabulous experience, they’ve loved the adventure. They’ve got a fabulous spirit, it really is a club-type spirit. All this team can go again, but the young ones are still years from peaking.

“In the main, they performed under the huge pressure of being at home for the majority of the tournament, being among the favourites, and they dealt with that so well. For a large part of the final, certainly the first half, they dealt with that. We were against a team that had gone 30 games unbeaten, a team that’s probably a little bit ahead of us in their development and their progress.

“Sometimes it’s easy to say things like, we can go on to Qatar now and win,” he said. “It’s a bit glib, really. We’ve still got to qualify, we’ve still got steps to take. We’ve got 18, 19, 20-year-olds who’ve done an incredible job and had a great insight into tournament football. There are a huge number of positives from that, and those players will be far better for going through so many important wins, so many landmarks.

“This has been fantastic, to get the time with the players that we get. Really embed the culture, embed our way of playing. Those periods are what you look for as an international manager and when you lose them it’s very difficult,” he added.

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Deirdre Tynan

Deirdre Tynan is an award-winning journalist who enjoys bringing the best in news reporting to Spain’s largest English-language newspaper, Euro Weekly News. She has previously worked at The Mirror, Ireland on Sunday and for news agencies, media outlets and international organisations in America, Europe and Asia. A huge fan of British politics and newspapers, Deirdre is equally fascinated by the political scene in Madrid and Sevilla. She moved to Spain in 2018 and is based in Jaen.