EXCLUSIVE: The making of Gareth Southgate: England manager reveals what he had to do to ‘survive’ in football as he sheds light on how he grew up and developed as a player in a brand new documentary
Gareth Southgate has revealed how he was forced to ‘survive’ to succeed as a professional footballer, as the England manager described the challenge of growing up at a young age in ‘a man’s world’.
The Three Lions boss has long championed the importance of mental health support for footballers and has fostered an environment of openness in which players feel comfortable around the national camp.
Southgate, 50, came through at a time when such topics were rarely discussed, describing the transition from youth football to the professional ranks as a ‘step up’ to ‘a man’s world’.
Gareth Southgate has opened up to the need to ‘survive’ in the ‘men’s world’ of senior football
Southgate described the transition from youth football to the senior game as a major setback
Speaking of a brand new documentary, Raise your game with Gareth Southgate, said the English boss: ‘I struggled a lot in the beginning [of my career]. It wasn’t just for fun anymore, it was your job.
“I was dropped from the youth team. You then have that realization “if this is what I really want, then I have to get up”. We are all rejected and we allow that to define you or you will bounce back.
‘Football, like many sports, has to mature at a very young age and very quickly.
‘At that point, your family can’t necessarily help you, they don’t understand the world you’re in.
Southgate said he had to ‘mature’ at a young age in order to thrive. The former defender was stamped by Man United legend Roy Keane in the 1995 FA Cup semi-final replay at Villa Park
Speaking in a new documentary, Raise your game with Gareth Southgate, England boss says rejection ‘makes you tough’ as a young player
“I had to realize that ‘this is a man’s world, it’s very competitive and if this is what I want to do, I have to get better’.”
Southgate has gone out of his way to emphasize his understanding of the setbacks players face during their careers after being accused last week of reducing his 33-man squad for the European Championship to just 26 players.
The 50-year-old says players need to make the right “choices” if they want to “survive” and reach the top of the game.
“The process of surviving different squads at different ages makes you stronger and you realize that surviving in the professional game is almost an achievement in itself,” he added.
The 50-year-old added that footballers need to make the right ‘choices’ to reach the top
Southgate went on to play Premier League football and represented his country 57 times
“It’s so hard to actually get to the top. People would say “sacrifices”, but maybe “choices” is the better word. That dedication to living your life the right way. It gives you the best chance of success.’
Southgate has used his experience of reacting to adversity to inspire mental resilience in his players to overcome obstacles, with England’s dramatic penalty shootout victory over Colombia in the 2018 World Cup a real turning point for the squad’s confidence.
The England boss thought that the success of a team naturally inspires confidence in the players as individuals and as a group.
“Once we started to succeed, I gained more confidence,” he said. “If you keep playing well, you’ll have the respect of the people anyway.”
The new documentary features Southgate alongside a lineup of YouTube creators exploring how important social issues such as mental health and wellbeing, racial inclusion and gender inequality are being addressed in football.
Southgate has brought mental resilience to his squad as he progresses to Euro 2020
Raise your Game with Gareth Southgate premieres on YouTube Originals on Tuesday, June 8.