Described by former teammates as “a posh boy with a toughness in him”, the well-spoken lad from Crawley, Gareth Southgate began his football career earning the princely sum of £27.50 per week as a YTS trainee at Crystal Palace in the late eighties.It’s a measure of the man’s metal that not only did he survive the windswept chill of Palace’s Mitcham training ground, but by the tender age of 22, he’d replaced Andy Thorn to become the club’s first team captain.
The year was 1996. The tournament, the UEFA European Football Championships. At the end of extra time in the semi-final, England and arch-rivals Germany remained locked in a one-all draw. Penalties beckoned. And when Terry Venables asked for volunteers, Southgate despite having only taken one penalty in his professional career – which was saved – stepped up to the plate.
We all know what happened next. But what you might not know is that the experience so devastated Southgate that John Major was moved to embrace the player after the match. Little wonder it’s taken twenty-two years for Southgate to recover from the aftermath of that fateful day.
Having been there and not done it, Southgate, and frankly every living English man, woman and child, was ecstatic when our boys broke the England penalty curse by knocking Columbia out of the competition. And while it’s easy to put someone on a pedestal, only to bring them crashing down the moment things go wrong, you’ve got to hand it to the England manager – his boys owned it.
In fact, “owning it” has been Southgate’s mantra in the lead up to this World Cup. He’s had his list of penalty takers and reserves finalised for months, and having learned from his own mistake, he says he’d rather players opted out of taking a penalty if they’re not feeling up to it:
“The type of character I was, I felt you should put yourself forward. It is probably braver not to, if you are not confident.”
Dressed in a slim fitting, navy blue, wool three piece, Gareth Southgate is the epitome of calm professionalism. It’s a look that’s clearly catching the imagination of thousands of Englishmen up and down the land. Highstreet stalwart, M&S is reporting a 35% surge in demand for the navy waistcoat Southgate is in the process of immortalising.
And don’t forget the shirt either – if you’re going to go down the waistcoat route, you need to make sure the layer underneath is a good fit. While we may not all have Southgate’s slim physique, a well cut blue shirt does a lot for your silhouette. You want something that doesn’t overflow your belt, but which doesn’t pucker at the buttons when you stretch your arms.
The England look
Want to show your support for the England team on their route to the final, but don’t fancy sweltering in a navy three-piece? Here’s a natty looking solution for you; the same red white and blue theme, but in summer blazer form.
Twin a traditional navy jacket with stone chinos, white shirt, and blue and red striped tie, and you’ll look just as patriotic as everyone else down the pub. And just as smart as those in the dugout.
Have you been inspired to don a waistcoat like the England manager? Leave us a comment below.