Football

Gareth Southgate: England Boss On WW2 Veteran Grandfather's 'Service' Values

In an open letter titled 'Dear England', Gareth Southgate talks about his World War Two veteran grandfather and what pride means.

England manager Gareth Southgate has written an open letter about what it means to represent England, and how his grandfather instilled in him the importance of "service in the name of your country".

The football boss has spoken in the past about the high regard in which he holds the Armed Forces, and writing a piece on The Players' Tribune titled 'Dear England', he has explored what the national side means to people and examined the similarities with military service.

"Like with our own memories of watching England, everyone has a different idea of what it actually means to be English. What pride means," Mr Southgate said.

"For me, personally, my sense of identity and values is closely tied to my family and particularly my granddad. He was a fierce patriot and a proud military man, who served during World War II."

Gareth Southgate, who himself played for England 57 times during his playing career, added: "Because of my granddad, I've always had an affinity for the military and service in the name of your country — though the consequence of my failure in representing England will never be as high as his.

"My granddad's values were instilled in me from a young age and I couldn't help but think of him when I lined up to sing the national anthem before my first international caps.

"My belief is that everyone has that pride. And that includes the players."

Watch: In 2020, we spoke to Gareth Southgate about how military athletes inspire him.

England begin their delayed Euro 2020 campaign on Sunday against Croatia, having reached the semi-finals at the 2018 World Cup, their last major tournament.

Prior to the competition three years ago, Gareth Southgate praised the "big impact" Royal Marines had on his side, after players and staff went through elite training at the Commando Training Centre in 2017.

Last year, Mr Southgate presented prizes at the 33rd annual UKAF Awards, where he told Forces News about his admiration for military athletes.

As well as England, Wales and Scotland have also qualified for Euro 2020.

Wales begin their tournament against Switzerland on Saturday 12 June, while Scotland's first opponent of the competition is the Czech Republic on Monday 14 June.