Gareth Southgate targets World Cup 2022 with England after Euro body blow

Three Lions manager also takes aim at 'unforgivable' racist abuse of players after final defeat to Italy

Gareth Southgate reacted to England’s Euro 2020 final defeat by insisting he is determined to lead his country to next year’s World Cup.

But while the FA are keen for him to sign an extended deal to manage England in Euro 2024, Southgate will take longer before determining his long-term future.

England’s 55-year wait for silverware continued after they lost to Italy on penalties but Southgate, who also led them to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup, is determined to honour his current contract.

He said: “I want to take this team to Qatar. But also there's a lot to think through. It's not about finance in any way or commitment, I don't want to commit to anything longer than I should and I never want to outstay my welcome.

“It's amazing experience but to lead your country in these tournaments is takes its toll and I need a break now. I don't think now's an appropriate time to think about anything. I need some time to watch the [Italy] game again and reflect on the whole tournament.”

Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka missed their spot kicks in the shoot-out and were subjected to abuse, much of it racist, on social media. The FA issued a statement condemning it and Southgate branded it “unforgivable”.

He added: “We have been a beacon of light in bringing everyone together and the national team stands for everyone. That togetherness must continue. Bukayo, in particular, has been an absolute star in this tournament. He’s become a hugely popular member of the group.”

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All of this team can go again, there is no doubt about that, but the young ones are two, three, four years from peaking
Gareth Southgate

Southgate also criticised the supporters responsible for violence in London on Sunday, saying: “We can’t control that. We can only set the example that we believe we should, and represent the country in the way we feel we should. Everybody has to remember when they support the team that they also represent England, and should represent what we stand for. The players have done that brilliantly. We have had a positive effect on a lot of areas of society but we can't influence everybody.”

The youngsters Saka and Sancho took spot kicks while Raheem Sterling and Jack Grealish did not but the Aston Villa captain said he was keen to step forward while Southgate insisted he picked the takers. “It's not a case of players not volunteering or other experienced players backing out,” he said. “They didn't have the chance. That was my decision.”

Southgate argued that England’s record in recent years compares with those of any teams who have not won a tournament.

“We have had progress over the four years,” he said. “We have had a fourth place, a third place and a second place. For consistency, it is right up there but we know this team is not at its peak yet. All of this team can go again, there is no doubt about that, but the young ones are two, three, four years from peaking. 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.”

“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 and those players will be far better for going through so many important wins, so many landmarks.

“Sometimes it’s easy to say things like, we can go on to Qatar now and win. It’s a bit glib, really. That doesn't guarantee winning because we know how difficult it is to get back to the state we've got on Sunday night. That's why it's so painful to get so close.”

Updated: July 12th 2021, 10:26 AM
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