Southgate opens up on what he had to do to 'survive' in football

EXCLUSIVE: The making of Gareth Southgate: England manager opens up on what he had to do to ‘survive’ in football as he sheds light on how he matured and developed as a player in brand new documentary

  • Gareth Southgate has opened up on his need to ‘survive’ as a young player 
  • The England boss admits he struggled with the transition into senior football 
  • Southgate described the game as ‘a man’s world’ and says he needed to ‘step up’ 
  • Raise your Game with Gareth Southgate airs on YouTube Originals on June 8 
  • Find out the latest Euro 2020 news including fixtures, live action and results here.

Gareth Southgate has opened up on how he was forced to ‘survive’ in order to succeed as a professional footballer, as the England manager described the challenge of maturing 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 nurtured 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 into the professional ranks as a ‘step up’ into ‘a man’s world’.

Gareth Southgate has opened up on the need to ‘survive’ in the ‘man’s world’ of senior football

Southgate described the transition from youth football to the senior game as a major setback

Speaking on a brand new documentary, Raise your Game with Gareth Southgate, the England boss said: ‘I struggled a lot at the start [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 realisation “if this is what I really want to do then I have to step up”. We all get rejected and we either allow that to define you or you bounce back. 

‘Football, like a lot of sports, you have got to mature at a very young age and very quickly. 

‘By that point your family can’t necessarily help you, they don’t understand the world that you have gone into.

Southgate said he had to ‘mature’ at a young age in order to thrive. The former defender was stamped on 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, the England boss says that rejection ‘hardens you’ as a young player

‘I had to realise that “this is a man’s world, it is highly competitive and if this is what I want to do I have got to get better”.’

Southgate has been at pains to stress his understanding of the setbacks that players face throughout their careers, having been charged with reducing his 33-man provisional squad for the Euros to just 26-players last week.

The 50-year-old says that players must make the correct ‘choices’ if they are to ‘survive’ and reach the top of the game.

‘The process of surviving the cut off of different selections at different ages hardens you and you realise to survive in the professional game is almost an achievement in itself,’ he added.

The 50-year-old added that footballers must make the correct ‘choices’ to reach the top

Southgate went onto play Premier League football and represented his country 57 times

‘To actually get to the top is so difficult. People would say “sacrifices” but maybe “choices” is the better word. That commitment to living your life in the right way. It gives you the best chance to succeed.’

Southgate has used his experience of responding from setbacks to inspire a mental resilience among his players to overcome obstacles, with England’s dramatic penalty shootout win over Colombia in the 2018 World Cup a real turning point for the confidence of the squad.

The England boss reflected that a team’s success naturally garners confidence among the players as individuals and a group. 

‘As we started to succeed as a time I gained in confidence,’ he said. ‘If you keep playing well you have got people’s respect anyway.’   

The new documentary features Southgate alongside a line-up of YouTube Creators as they explore how important social issues such as mental health and wellbeing, racial inclusion and gender inequality are being addressed in football.

Southgate has inspired a mental resilience among his playing squad heading into Euro 2020

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Raise your Game with Gareth Southgate premieres on YouTube Originals on Tuesday 8 June.  

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