Gareth Southgate reveals he turned down England job first time around over fear of failure but convinced by Euro 2016

7 mins read

GARETH SOUTHGATE revealed the reason he turned down the England job at first was because of a fear of failure.

And that it was watching WALES reach the semi-finals of Euro 2016 which made him change his mind.

England manager Gareth Southgate turned down the job initially due to fear of failure
PA:Press Association

Former Three Lions defender Southgate, who famously missed a penalty in the last-four shootout against Germany at Euro 96, then replaced Roy Hodgson on an interim basis before making the move permanent – having previously turned it down.

Asked if he initially rejected the England job because of a fear within him of failure, Southgate said: “Very much so.

“Having experienced what I did in ‘96 that hurts and I think the brain works in a way that it doesn’t want to put you in those situations again.

“But I actually sat and watched Wales when they got to the semi-finals of the Euros four years ago when an old team-mate of mine, Chris Coleman was the manager. And he spoke after the game about not being fearful of taking those challenges and how he had to step out and do that.

“I was actually sat with my son and I was thinking ‘I’d be telling my son exactly that and I’ve actually backed away from this challenge.’ I took myself out of this opportunity.

“So I had to look at myself in the mirror and say ‘No if I’m going to talk about those things with my own son then I’ve got to step out myself.

“And I’m so pleased I did because the experiences I’ve had, the privilege of being manager of the national team, is something that has been an absolute honour, and I hope now where I am in a position where my voice can be heard we can make a positive difference to some young people as well.”

Southgate was speaking on ITV show This Morning where he was promoting his new book Gareth Southgate: Anything Is Possible – which aims to allay youngsters’ fears and boost their confidence.

Chris Coleman's side topped their group after wins over Russia and England
Chris Coleman’s success with Wales gave Southgate the confidence to take on the England job
Getty Images

The book includes an endorsement from the Prince of Wales and Southgate said: “So much of my work with the England team is with young people but also with the Prince’s Trust.

“I think maybe young people don’t realise people in high profile roles suffer all these anxieties, uncertainties and lack of confidence – they just think we’re impregnable really.

“I wanted to share some of my experiences in the hope they will realise they’re not the only ones feeling the way they do.

“The last six months and next year, it’s never been more uncertain for young people. So it’s an opportunity for us all to help them on their way.”

Southgate, who won 57 caps as a player for England, is preparing for next summer’s delayed Euro 2020 Finals having led the Three Lions to the semi finals of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

But success has not come easy for the Watford-born star who was once told he was too scrawny and nice to make it in football.

He said: “What you learn is those experiences bring you resilience. The sun still shines the next day and you have to get up with a positive attitude.

“I really do think that’s a key thing – although we want to protect our young people, we’ve also got to help them build this resilience because the world’s a tough place and there are only going to be knockbacks along the way.

“And how they deal with them will determine how far they are able to go.

“Everybody starts in the same place. We end up maybe doing some extraordinary things and having some extraordinary experiences but we’ve all had a journey where there have been rejections, failures and disappointments.

“But of course when you’re young you feel like you’re the only one experiencing that.

“We’ve tried to give youngsters some guidelines to follow to give them an insight into why they feel the way they do, why their brain works the way it does and just to make things into more manageable chunks.

“I was very quiet, I’m naturally an introvert anyway. I’ve had to learn how to deal with people and speaking publicly and get more confident with those sorts of things over the years.

“But I do think it is a process of going through experiences. I don’t actually think leaders are born, I think it’s a nurture thing and you’re a product of your experiences and what happens to you throughout your life.”

Southgate, 50, revealed he is rubbish at DIY and household chores, insisting: “Absolutely hopeless. Disastrous. At home I’m just ranked narrowly behind the children and the dogs.”

England boast the most-valuable squad of all Euro 2020 nations

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