England manager Gareth Southgate will reach a landmark that no other England men’s team representative has ever achieved when he takes charge of the national side against San Marino on Thursday evening.
England kick off their World Cup qualifying campaign against the lowest-ranked team in the group at Wembley.
The game will mark Southgate’s 50th game in charge of the national side, to go alongside his 50 caps as a player. No-one else has ever achieved both for the England men’s team.
Hope Powell recorded 66 caps for the England women’s national team, before managing the side on 60 occasions.
Southgate won his first cap in 1995, and made a total of 57 appearances for the national side. He took over as England manager in 2016, having previously managed the under-21s.
What better time to look back at Southgate’s finest moments, and games he has been involved in, on either side of the white line?
15 June 1996 – Scotland 0-2 England
Gareth Southgate’s Euro 1996 campaign will always be remembered for the penalty miss against Germany in the semi-finals.
But he was ever-present throughout the successes of the competition, including the famous 2-0 victory over Scotland in the group stage.
Starting in a defensive midfield role, Southgate had little impact on the first half proceedings. In truth, the whole team struggled to create meaningful chances.
Southgate reverted back to centre half for the second 45 minutes, and played an important role in England keeping a clean sheet. That was despite Tony Adams giving away a late penalty, which was saved by David Seaman.
It was a vital three points to really get England’s tournament up and running.
25 May 2001 – Southgate’s takes the captain‘s armband
Southgate was England captain for 45 minutes during his country’s 4-0 friendly victory over Mexico.
David Beckham started the game as captain, but was substituted at half-time. Southgate led the side for the second half.
It was a relatively comfortable 45 minutes for the Aston Villa man, given that Sven Goran Eriksson’s side were 3-0 up within 30 minutes. Paul Scholes, Robbie Fowler and Beckham were all on the scoresheet.
Four months later, England would go on to record a famous 5-1 victory in Germany, although Southgate did not feature on that night.
3 July 2018 – Colombia 1-1 England (England win 4-3 on penalties)
England’s most memorable night under Southgate?
3 July was the date that 22 years of hurt were finally ended. A run of six shootout losses in a row was halted. Eric Dier took his place in history.
England had finally won a penalty shootout, reaching the quarter-finals of the 2018 World Cup in the process.
When Yerry Mina powered in a header to equalise for Colombia in the final minutes of normal time, England fans feared the worst. Extra time and penalties loomed. We’d been here before in major tournaments.
Danny Rose had a half chance in the extra time period, but the remainder of the game was a mostly tepid affair. Time for penalties.
When Jordan Pickford saved from Carlos Bacca’s spot kick, the tension still hadn’t abided. It needed Dier – having come on in extra time – to step up and send England through.
He did exactly that, calmly striking the ball past the outstretched glove of David Ospina in the Colombia net. The tension was lifted. England were through.
15 October 2018 – Spain 2-3 England
Spain went into this Nations League encounter having not lost a competitive game at home for 15 years.
Inside 38 minutes against England, however, they were 3-0 down.
This was Gareth Southgate’s side at their counter-attacking best. Raheem Sterling, having received some criticism for his lack of goals in an England shirt, hit a brace. Marcus Rashford netted the other.
Paco Alcacer’s 58th minute strike gave Spain hope, but the game was over as a contest by the time Sergio Ramos headed home a second goal for the hosts deep into stoppage time.
It is also an encounter that saw this crunching tackle from Eric Dier on the Real Madrid captain:
It was a great night for England.
Here’s hoping that Southgate can create even more great moments this summer, as England gear up for Euro 2020.
Featured Image Credit: Getty