England manager Gareth Southgate's respect for families at the tournament has had a positive effect on all the players.
In case you missed the match between England and Colombia, one highlight in particular was when England’s manager, Gareth Southgate, helped to lead to his young players to a victorious penalty shootout. The dramatic moment was not for the faint of heart, to be sure. But it wasn’t just great coaching that helped the team win the game. Many credit Southgate’s unique approach to putting family at the heart of the game for giving the team an edge.
In the world of soccer, especially in international tournaments, it is common practice for players to be away from their loved ones to focus solely on the goal at hand. To win a sought-after trophy, players do better without the distraction of their wives or families. At least, that was always the common belief. Yet father-of-two Southgate has turned that theory on its head and come up with a “family first” policy, as reported in the Daily Mail.
As a devoted family man, the manager recognizes the power of loved ones to keep players grounded and motivated. So the ex-England player is letting his players spend time with their families during the tournament. Southgate himself was quick to turn to his own wife of 20 years after the nail-biting match that saw his team defeat Colombia after extra-time and a round of penalties — previously not England’s forte.
In the past, he’s credited his family for keeping him “sane away from the pitch.” But last Tuesday night, surrounded by his son Flynn, daughter Mia, and his wife, Alison, the manager looked ecstatic celebrating the win with his family … and the rest of England.
Yet, there’s even more to the ex-center back than being England’s manager, husband, and father. Many people have praised Southgate for the genuine compassion he shared for the losing side, something he draws from his own experience. A few decades ago, Southgate missed his own penalty kick in a crucial game that saw England eliminated from the Euro 1996. Knowing what Colombia must have been feeling, he took time during his own celebrations to comfort Colombian player Mateus Uribe, who missed his penalty resulting in the team leaving the tournament.
“When something goes wrong in your life, it doesn’t finish you and you should become braver, knowing that you’ve got to go for things in life and don’t regret because you didn’t try to be as good as you might be,” Southgate shared in The Guardian.
England now tackles Sweden in their next match on Saturday, with their families firmly by their side.