Football

Meet The Army Officer Advising Gareth Southgate

England manager Gareth Southgate has hailed the military in the past, crediting them for helping him with his team management.

Under Gareth Southgate's leadership, England have come fourth at the 2018 World Cup, third in the Nations League, now second at the Euros - and next year they get a chance to go one better in Qatar.

It has been five years since Southgate became England men's senior squad manager - and when he did, the FA assembled a panel from outside football to work with him in improving performance. 

Among the members of the Technical Advisory Board is Colonel Lucy Giles - the first female college commander at Sandhurst.

Speaking on the BFBS Sitrep podcast, she said it's been an "enormous privilege" to be a part of the FA initiatives and has offered some advice on various subjects, including Southgate's approach to the Euros.

Phil Foden and Harry Kane celebrate England's second goal against Denmark in their Euro 2020 semi-final at Wembley Stadium 070721 CREDIT ALAMY
Passion on the faces of Phil Foden (left) and Harry Kane (right) as they celebrate England's second goal against Denmark (Picture: ALAMY).

Similarities

The mission of the board was quite simple and shared among the collective.

Colonel Giles said: "Gareth is leading and representing his country under stressful situations in the public eye, which is not dissimilar to the kind of experiences that myself and colleagues have found being in the military.

"We are putting uniform on to serve Her Majesty The Queen and our country overseas, and on the mainland, and we are very pleased and honoured to be able to do that, as he is."

The England 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 explored what the national side means to people and the similarities with military service.

Southgate wrote: "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.

"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."

England celebrations Euro 2020 Semi-Final at Wembley 07072021 CREDIT Paul Marriott Alamy Live News.jpg
The England players, led by captain Harry Kane, celebrate after securing a place in the final (Picture: Paul Marriot/Alamy).

His Leadership

Since becoming England manager, Southgate has got the vast majority of the nation believing in the men's side again, evident in the celebrations as they reached their first Euros final.

But Colonel Giles said despite the team's success, Southgate faced some challenges in the build-up to the tournament kicking off. 

"There were only about eight or 10 days, that's it, from the last player being released to be able to be part of that team," she said.

"To form a team in that short amount of time is a huge challenge. 

"Their skills are a given, they are top of their game in terms of skills and performance, but it's the mental journey that you have, and being able to trust and work with other people in the team.

"It's the same for the military... people will come to us from other units and they've got to fit in straight away and hit the ground running and be able to work in that tight-knit group.

Watch: Gareth Southgate recalls the impact of the Royal Marines' training upon the England squad.

"With Gareth, where he's got an advantage, is that he knows a lot of these players from when they were playing for England when they were younger and their development. Of course in the military, what we are, I think, quite good at is knowing our people.

"You have to know your people, in order to be able to get the best out of them.

"The model of developing individuals to build your teams to achieve the task, and the positioning of where you are in that conundrum is the art that Gareth Southgate has honed and I think it's because he knows his players very well."

Southgate also worked with the military in the run-up to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Royal Marine Major Scotty Mills mentored the England team on how to cope with pressure ahead of the tournament and put the team through a series of exercises at the Commando Training Centre.

Southgate praised the impact the training led by Major Mills had on the side, saying the togetherness in the squad stemmed from the Marines.

On Major Mills, Southgate told Forces News: "I don’t mind saying we’ve hugged a couple of times and shed a tear. There aren’t many people I would open up in that way to."

Cover image: Gareth Southgate (Picture: Alamy).