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08th Jul 2021

Gary Neville praises Southgate with sly dig at Boris Johnson

Charlie Herbert

You love to see it.

Gary Neville is easily one of the best pundits in English football, matching tactical insight and analysis with a deep care and passion for the game. And moments like this remind us that he’s never afraid to speak his mind or comment on things outside if football.

In the glorious aftermath of England’s historic 2-1 victory over Denmark in the Euro 2020 semi final, Neville was full of praise for England’s manager, Gareth Southgate, and he couldn’t help but make the comparison between the football team’s leader and some of the other figures in the UK.

Speaking as Southgate and his team paraded around the pitch, applauding England fans, Nevill said: “The standards of leaders in this country in the last couple years has been poor. And looking at that man there that’s everything a leader should be: respectful, humble, telling the truth, genuine.

“He’s fantastic Gareth Southgate, he really is unbelievable and has done a great job.”

I mean, he’s got a point.

At this point, Gareth Southgate probably has earned more respect from the nation than any English political leader could dream of. If he ran for Prime Minister next year, he’d probably win.

After leading England to the World Cup semi finals in 2018 – making history there with a first ever World Cup penalty shootout win and a first knockout match victory since 2006 – he has now broken one of the great hoodoos of English sport by taking the Three Lions to a first major final since 1966.

No matter what happens on Sunday, he will go down as one of the great England managers. If England were to go one step further and actually win the tournament, then he would go down as one of the legendary England managers.

And throughout his entire tenure, he has shown exactly what Gary Neville mentions: respect, humility, honesty.

At a time when England has been a conflicted and divided place, Southgate has shown us exactly how leaders should be. We could all learn a thing or two from him and his team.