Southgate ‘very proud’ to pick up OBE

Gareth Southgate dedicated his OBE to the England team and said his squad “continues to improve” as he collected the honour on Thursday.

The national football team manager said taking the job gave him a fresh perspective on what the side means to the country after he led England to its first World Cup semi-final since 1990.

The 48-year-old collected the OBE from the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace where the pair spoke briefly about efforts to tackle knife crime after a meeting in December.

Gareth Southgate receives his OBE from the Prince of Wales
Gareth Southgate receives his OBE from the Prince of Wales (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Southgate said: “It’s a very proud moment. I think I’ve been involved in football for 30 years so part of me is proud for everybody that helped me through that whole period and the clubs I served, and the coaches and teachers that helped me.

“Of course I’m aware that the recognition is as much for last summer and the work with the team, so I’m very grateful to all of the players and all the support team that work with me, because I’m here representing them, really.”

England reached their first World Cup semi-final in nearly three decades at the 2018 tournament in Russia before they were knocked out by Croatia.

The progress before their elimination sparked nationwide excitement.

Croatia v England in the World Cup semi-final
Croatia v England in the World Cup semi-final (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Asked if he expected to receive an honour when he took on the job, Southgate said: “No, I think it’s a privilege to have the role and you hope to improve the team and make a difference, and we are getting better.

“And I think along the way we’re bringing a lot of enjoyment to people, which is great, so we’ve got to make sure we keep doing that.

“You don’t realise how much it means to people in the country until you experience what we did and what we are experiencing now as the team continues to improve, and that is unique with a national team.

“You’re representing everybody and we take that responsibility very seriously, but also we want everybody to have fun and enjoy the ride as well.”

Southgate collected his honour a week after England striker Harry Kane, 25, was given an MBE at the palace.

Gareth Southgate met the Prince of Wales at a violent youth crime forum in December
Gareth Southgate met the Prince of Wales at a violent youth crime forum in December (Steve Parsons/PA)

Referring to his brief exchange with Charles when he was handed the OBE, Southgate said: “I was at an event with him a few weeks ago, talking about knife crime and how we might be able to make a difference with that, so it’s a very important area of work that he feels strongly about.”

He was among about 100 people to be handed honours on Thursday, including military and police personnel named in the New Year Honours list for 2019.

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