Gareth Southgate was always going to make a manager, explains former Sheffield Wednesday man

Did you know.. England manager Gareth Southgate once missed a penalty that directly resulted in his side being dumped out of the European Championships in 1996?

Sunday, 13th June 2021, 6:00 am

Well of course you do; every television montage and radio leading into one of Southgate’s soundbites in recent weeks has mentioned it.

This, a chance to lift a major trophy at Wembley, is the ultimate redemption et cetra and so on. And, to be fair, it would make for a pretty cool narrative.

A cursory glance at the footage of that evening 25 years ago centres on the consoling effort of manager Terry Venables and in the background another man; former Sheffield Wednesday physio Alan Smith.

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England manager Gareth Southgate.
England manager Gareth Southgate.

Now 72, Smith remembers that even in a changing room such a that; with personalities as big as those of Stuart Pearce, Alan Shearer and Paul Gascoigne, it was the more softly-spoken Southgate that he felt was going to go on and make a name for himself in management.

“He was an international footballer, a very good player,” Smith told The Star. “He was always calm and composed and he had the feel of a coach about him even when he was a relatively young player.

“Speaking to him, without any shadow of a doubt. Going back to Euro 96, because of his maturity, his intelligence and his attitude I would have said he was top of the list. He is a very good lad and a really good person as well.”

Smith was part of the last England camp before Southgate’s effort in 2018 to ride to a semi-final with England, and asked what he felt the current crop can do this time out spoke with optimism.

The Three Lions start in a group with Croatia, Scotland and the Czech Republic.

“I would hope they'll do very, very well,” he said. “Gareth has a big job on and is a good person to have that type of responsibility. He's played in the European Championships, he's a good lad, mature and experienced now.

“They’ve some good players and like everyone else I’m hoping he and the team can do very, very well.”

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