England v Italy: ‘FA man’ Gareth Southgate not in it for personal redemption

England manager Gareth Southgate said he did not see the Euro 2020 final as the end of his own redemption story as he looked back on his journey from penalty villain to national treasure ahead of the final of Euro 2020 with Italy.

The Three Lions boss has taken England to their first major final in 55 years and will now be looking to deliver Wembley glory, just as Sir Alf Ramsey’s World Cup winners did in 1966.

Southgate took charge of the senior side just under five years ago in the wake of the Euro 2016 collapse against Iceland and the shock sacking of Sam Allardyce after just one game at the helm.

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That caretaker role would become a permanent appointment two months later and since then the former international defender has not looked back.

Italy's Leonardo Bonucci battles with Austria's Christoph Baumgartner during the UEFA Euro 2020 round of 16 match held at Wembley Picture: Nick Potts/PA

Southgate guided England to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup and a third-placed finish at the inaugural Nations League finals a year later.

This summer he has gone one better, banishing the memory of his penalty miss in the Euro 1996 semi-final shoot-out defeat to Germany by taking the nation into the final.

Asked if the 25-year story arc from Euro 96 fall guy to successful manager was a tale of redemption, Southgate replied: “I could see why the sort of film script would be whatever.

“But it was strange the other night because once I’d finished embarrassing myself on the pitch, all I could think about, it wasn’t pinching myself, ‘We’re in the final.’ It was, ‘We’ve got to get this right now. How do we get this game right?’”

PARTNERS: Italy's Giorgio Chiellini, right, gives the captain's armband to teammate Leonardo Bonucci before leaving the pitch during the Euro 2020 clash against Switzerland. Picture: Andreas Solaro/AP

And who would play him in the film?

“Well, it would be a good looking fella obviously,” he added with a smile.

Not a popular choice as manager initially due to his close ties to the Football Association, having been under-21 boss among other roles, Southgate had turned down the chance to take temporary charge in the past.

“I knew that when we have had difficult tournaments as a country, the FA come under scrutiny,” he said when asked about rejecting the position in June 2016.

“There is not going to be any enthusiasm for an FA man getting the job and I know people saw me as an FA man.

“I don’t mind that, I’m happy to be accused of being an FA man.”