Inspiration

Over 500 football league matches, 57 appearances for England and now the England team manager, but where does Gareth Southgate head to when he’s ‘coming home’? Carolyn Nicoll met up with the dapper England manager at Yorkshire’s stunning Rudding Park Hotel near Harrogate.

Why did you move to Yorkshire in the early noughties?
When I signed for Middlesbrough a friend recommended Harrogate. I drove through and knew my wife and I would love it, we’ve now lived here longer than anywhere else.

What do you love about the county?
The people and their hardworking, no nonsense attitude, good values, honesty and humility that really shines through. All things I associate with. I also love to come away from matches, to the calm of living in the countryside and being able to clear my head.

What do you like to do in Yorkshire?
See different parts of it with family. My daughter played a lot of netball in Sheffield, we visit Hull, my son is frequently in York and we like to walk the dogs at Bolton Abbey and around reservoirs near home. We’ve got a Labrador who I’m happy to be associated with, not so sure about being seen out in daylight with the cockapoo though (laughs).

Gareth Southgate away from the game

Your pastimes away from football?
There isn’t a lot of spare time, so being with family and watching the children play sport. We’ve got a close circle of friends, none of whom are involved in football.

I hear you play a bit of cricket?
My son plays for a local team and if short, they’ve asked me to step in. It’s good fun. I think the opposition were a bit surprised to see me wheeled out, but it’s lovely to sit and chat with people. I rarely get the chance to play in a team with my son but that’s the beauty of cricket. I know they say Lords is the home of cricket, but Yorkshire is really, isn’t it?

How do you keep fit?
I mix it up between running and the gym. I don’t play a lot of competitive team sport, although we occasionally have the odd social game at work. Exercise is part vanity and part keeping my head clear.

Where would you send a first time visitor to Yorkshire?
To the Dales for its spectacular views, lovely villages and pubs. York Minster is an incredible building and the developments in Leeds are impressive, with great shops and restaurants.

It’s a big year for Harrogate, hosting the UCI Road World Championships. Will you be there?
Certainly! We went to watch a couple of the stages of the Tour de France Grand Départ, it was remarkable to walk not far from the end of our road and watch a world famous race. It’s notable how much tourism the cycling has brought to the area and the number of cyclists has increased massively. It’s also nice if we get the roads done too!

Another Harrogate celebration will be Bettys 100th anniversary. Are you a Fat Rascal fan?
You’ve nailed it, spot on, a Fat Rascal is my favourite! There are two Bettys in Harrogate and we’ll often pop along for breakfast. It’s an institution and if I speak to anybody about Harrogate it’s the first thing they mention.

Is there anything that would surprise people about Gareth Southgate?
Not really. I am as I am. You have to be authentic and lead the way that suits your personality, people will smell very quickly if they don’t think you’re genuine. However, I do accept that at home I’m lower in the pecking order, below the kids and the dogs.

An England Man

You were born in Watford, but recently given the accolade of Honorary Yorkshireman
It’s nice to feel that people have accepted me, I guess because of the length of time I’ve lived here, I’m now viewed as one of their own. I know how proud people are to come from Yorkshire and I’ve embraced and recognise what a strong county it is. When England played Costa Rica at Leeds United it was one of the best experiences I’ve had as manager.

Have you got any amusing stories from your playing days?
Ones that we can print? I played for England with people like Paul Gascoigne, so everyday something was going on.

Summer 2018, all eyes were on Russia at the start of the World Cup. How did you think the England team would perform?
We didn’t know. Many of the players were quite inexperienced at international level. We had the second youngest team and in terms of international caps the least experienced team, but we had belief in their talent and a group of players who embraced everything and played at a high level.

What were the main things that propelled England to that World Cup semi-final? 
They were a tight, close team, not wanting to let the person next to them down, as well as being clear on their roles and how to play; maximising strengths and minimising weaknesses. We talked about attacking the tournament, our mindset and seeing each player’s character, especially when dealing with the media, telling their own stories and communicating with supporters.

How did it feel to have such intense support for the team from the nation?
I’m not certain we realised just how big it was until Fabian Delph travelled back to England from Russia during the tournament, for the birth of his child and when he came back he explained how huge the support was back home. Sport brings people together, the team feel pride in playing and are even more determined to get the right results.

Did you ever think the waistcoat would be such a massive hit?
Not a chance! I had all my stuff out on the day I was leaving and I said to my kids “I think it’s going to be too hot to put on a jacket and I don’t want to wear just the shirt, do you think I can get away with the waistcoat?” My son looked and went “Yeah, you’ll be fine Dad, don’t worry” and it’s as simple as that, but there were theories that it was power dressing, it really wasn’t and no way did I think it would have such a big impact.

This article was taken from This is Y 2019.