England boss Gareth Southgate proud of World Cup stars: They've been a pleasure

GARETH SOUTHGATE has told his desolate England stars: ‘You’ve put the pride back into the shirt’.


Posted Friday, July 13, 2018 by Dailystar.co.uk

The England boss and his Three Lions stars saw their World Cup dreams shattered by the 2-1 extra-time defeat to Croatia.

Players and fans alike are still coming to terms with missing out on a final with France.

But Southgate has tried to pick up his inconsolable players by telling them they have succeeded where so many others have failed by repairing the broken relationship between the supporters and their national team.

And in a tournament of so many positives, Southgate believes giving the country a team to believe in again could be the biggest plus of all.

"The whole place was desolate,” said Southgate of the dressing room scene in the Luzhniki Stadium after Mario Mandzukic’s winner sent them crashing out.

"But I told them I was incredibly proud of them for how they have been and how they have represented their country.

England boss Gareth Southgate proud of World Cup stars: They've been a pleasure
England boss Gareth Southgate helped the Three Lions to a World Cup semi-final

"We can reflect on the progress we’ve made, the way that a lot of individuals had incredible tournaments - and as a team we’ve had an incredible tournament.

"We’ve played in a style that we wanted to play and come through so many barriers as a team that have been historic difficulties for us.

"The connection with the fans at the end shows how far the team has come, so I’m hugely proud of them all.

"They’ve been a pleasure to work with. I don’t think anybody could have given any more than they did.”

The new found bond between team and fans was evident as they applauded one another until well after the final whistle in Moscow, before the players sought out their loved ones in the stands.

Southgate went back onto the pitch too after completing his media duties having steered England to within a whisker of their first final since 1966.

"For managing, coaching, leading, you are leading your country and I feel hugely proud that we’ve managed to get a connection and give people such enjoyment over an extended period of time,” he said.

"We wanted to go one step further and we were really conscious that was possible. I do think that was possible and so there is some regret, but not for me in terms of the players because they’ve been absolutely brilliant.

"The spirit of the group, going forward, I think they recognise what they’ve had over this period and what they’ve built.

"Some of that was there when I took over, because it wasn’t a group that was disconnected.

\"But it’s even tighter and stronger now and has more belief in the way they play based on the results and the landmarks they’ve reached.

"So we have to build on that and I’m sure we can. The desire and hunger of the players will be there to do it.

England boss Gareth Southgate proud of World Cup stars: They've been a pleasure
England lost to Croatia 2-1 after extra time in the World Cup

"It’s great for them. They may have had a feeling that playing for England was always misery and regret and recrimination.

"Now I think they’ve seen that it can be enjoyable - the whole experience can be enjoyable for everybody.

"I think they’ve had a view of what is possible. They were my experiences of my first couple of tournaments with England. It was difficult to watch guys avoiding mistakes for a long period.

"Whereas for the majority of this tournament we’ve tried to be as good as we can be, and be brave.

"Mistakes were always going to happen but to be brave you’ve got to play in that style.”

He must know pick his squad up for Saturday’s third place play-off against Belgium in St Petersburg.

England boss Gareth Southgate proud of World Cup stars: They've been a pleasure
Jesse Lingard is consoled by England boss Gareth Southgate

"I guess there’s only one game that’s bigger than this to lead your team into - and without a doubt it’s been an incredible experience,” he said.

"Now we have got to keep improving, and these guys will improve. We’ve managed to get a lot from this group of players, and play in a way that highlighted some of our strengths and hid some of our weaknesses.

"It’s important for us to recognise that - as a group of players and a group of staff. We have to build.

"We have some good young players coming through. We’ve had success at youth level and what we’ve done over the last few weeks has shown people what is possible.

"We’ve got to use it as a springboard to consistently reach the latter stages of tournaments.

"Performing on the biggest stages as they have, should give people belief in what they are doing.”

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