Campaign launched to give Gareth Southgate the freedom of Middlesbrough

A campaign for Gareth Southgate to be given the freedom of Middlesbrough has been launched.

The former Middlesbrough FC manager, who now lives in Harrogate, has won praise for taking England to the Euro 2020 final and how he’s led the side.

Now Middlesbrough’s Labour group has called for Mr Southgate to receive the honour in recognition of the nation’s footballing success.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Southgate picked up 160 caps for Middlesbrough between 2001 and 2006 before a three year spell managing the club.

Gareth Southgate could be given the freedom of Middlesbrough

He has been lauded for his leadership as well as the ethos and conduct shown by both himself and his England team on and off the field during this year’s European Championship.

The freedom of the borough is an award bestowed on very few people – and is the highest civic honour Middlesbrough Council can give.

Coun Matt Storey, Labour group leader, believed the title was fitting for the England boss.He said: “Gareth Southgate is one of us on Teesside with his proud record as Boro captain being the first skipper to lift a major trophy. This is a great way to honour his contribution to English football and our nation’s story.

“The first major final for England in 55 years is a tremendous achievement for Gareth and the whole England team. This is a team moulded in the manager’s own image.

“It’s not a team of superstars detached from the fans but a team of young, talented and hard-working lads with no ego who the English public can relate to and believe in.

“They are a side that reflect the values and attitude of Gareth Southgate who in these divisive and polarised times carries himself with calm assurance showing real leadership as an example to his players and the country.”

England fell agonisingly short at Wembley on Sunday night as Italy picked up their sixth major tournament victory.

Southgate said the penalty misses were down to him in the aftermath – adding he had chosen the spot-kick takers based on their performances in training.

Coun Storey said the England manager had provided “much needed joy” given the past 18 months – and had led the team with a “quiet charisma” and a “unifying presence”.

Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston said England’s performances on the pitch had given the country a much-needed lift over the past three weeks.

The independent mayor added: “Perhaps even more importantly, Gareth Southgate and his team have helped restore faith in football, acted as role models to our young people, and have been exemplary representatives of our country.

“The rest of the country now knows of the ethics, standards, and integrity that Teessiders already knew from Gareth’s eight years as Middlesbrough’s only cup-winning captain and later manager.

“So I believe the people of Middlesbrough should be asked if they believe Gareth should be offered the freedom of the borough in acknowledgement of his proud Boro past and his outstanding leadership as England’s coach.”

Previous recipients of the civic honour include artist Mackenzie Thorpe, Jack Hatfield, and Middlesbrough FC chairman Steve Gibson.

Mr Preston said a poll would be arranged for the people to have their say on the award.

A motion must be presented to Middlesbrough Council for the honour to stand.

If this is successful, then an extraordinary meeting would be called at a future date to present the freedom of the borough to Mr Southgate.