More than 23 million viewers watched ITV’s coverage of the Three Lions beating Denmark 2-1 after extra-time thanks to Harry Kane’s late goal on Wednesday night.
“I can’t be prouder to have the opportunity to lead my country,” he said. “To bring happiness at this time where it’s been so difficult for this period is a very special feeling.
“Because we’re a special country, we are historically an incredible country and I know I couldn’t be prouder to be an Englishman.
“To be able to hear Wembley like it was on Wednesday and to know how that will have been around the country is, yes, it’s an honour.”
Throughout the tournament, Southgate had been in lockdown with his players at St George’s Park due to Covid restrictions, and after leaving Wembley close to 1am they only got back to their base near Burton in the early hours.
He claims it was only on the final leg of their journey to Wembley for Wednesday’s semi-final that he fully appreciated the way the country is falling into line behind their footballers.
“I guess for me it hasn’t really totally registered because I’m not reading the front pages of the newspapers and I’m not tuning into the radio and TV bulletins,” Southgate said.
“But I’m noticing the journey to the stadium today the tooting of the horns, the flags on the cars, that so I’m starting to get a feel of exactly what’s going on.
“I suppose in the back of my mind I know what’s going on but I’ve tried to put it to one side really and keep focused on what we’re doing.”
Southgate says he feels no embarrassment for the neanderthal roar he shared with England fans after Wednesday night’s final whistle.
The normally mild-mannered England manager clenched his fists in front of the jubilant Wembley crowd and bellowed along with them in a release of pent-up emotion.
“So I’m not embarrassed about losing my head a little bit in that moment.”
The England manager has preached throughout the tournament the importance of not getting carried away with results.
With Italy having beaten Denmark on the evening before, Southgate and the rest of his staff would have 24 hours less to prepare for the final itself. Still…
“Once you step off the pitch you know you’re into the preparing for the next game and everything that goes with that,” the 51-year-old said.
“So to be able to have that moment on the pitch with the fans is for me is always the most special part.”
Author: Matthew Dunn
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