Over two decades, Southgate has gone from whipping boy to national hero. What he’s gone through will have left lasting psychological impressions
I don’t follow football. Never have. Nothing against it, just not my thing. Of course, I’ve absorbed some vague background awareness because you can’t get away from it in the UK. However, my limited knowledge has been thrown into sharp relief lately, as my six-year-old son has really got into the World Cup and keeps asking me who the best players are. Hence I keep getting asked “Is Pelé in this one?”, no matter what teams are playing.
But still, given the national obsession with football and the coverage it receives, you can’t help but know about major happenings. My earliest football-based memory is Gareth Southgate’s penalty miss in the Euro 96 semi-final against Germany. I confess I did have to Google it to remember the year, the tournament, and who they were playing against. But I certainly remember the fallout from it. It was everywhere, in the papers and on TV, people cursing Southgate’s name: I even remember the Spice Girls having a go at him as they hosted the Christmas Day Top of the Pops a full six months later! That’s some grudge.