Gareth Southgate issues patriotic rallying cry to England players to 'bring people together again' at the Euros as country begins to ease out of lockdown restrictions to play a part hosting summer showpiece

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  • England is beginning to ease out of the government’s lockdown restrictions 
  • Gareth Southgate is well aware his England side can boost national morale
  • He is challenging his players to seize the ‘opportunity’ to bring smiles back 

Gareth Southgate (right) wants his England side to lift the morale of a nation this summer

Gareth Southgate (right) wants his England side to lift the morale of a nation this summer

England have an 'opportunity' to put smiles on faces after a difficult 12 months in the pandemic

England have an ‘opportunity’ to put smiles on faces after a difficult 12 months in the pandemic

Southgate knows his squad go into the rearranged tournament as one of the favourites

Southgate knows his squad go into the rearranged tournament as one of the favourites

Southgate (middle) took time out of his Euros preparations to meet the first two winners of the Nationwide Mutual Respect Campaign on Tuesday afternoon - Tina Jacobs and Dan Weston

Southgate (middle) took time out of his Euros preparations to meet the first two winners of the Nationwide Mutual Respect Campaign on Tuesday afternoon – Tina Jacobs and Dan Weston

Gareth Southgate has rallied his England players to reunite the nation at Euro 2020 as the country slowly emerges out of Covid lockdown.

The England boss is finalising his plans for the European Championships, that kick off in June, a tournament the Three Lions head into as one of the favourites.

With the country easing out of lockdown restrictions, the Euros will capture the nation’s imagination and the opportunity to put a smile on the face of football followers up and down the country later this summer is not lost on Southgate.

‘We are all excited by it. We certainly recognise it’s an opportunity for us to bring people together again,’ said Southgate.

‘There are those big England nights and how they bring the whole family together. Maybe people won’t be able to throw beer as much as they were in the past – I don’t know what the rules will be on that!

‘But the fact they can enjoy themselves and get behind the team will give us energy. Of course we have to careful – wonderful island mentality, we are not the only country in Europe who has been through this, so I am sure that every other team is sitting saying the same thing with fans feeling the same way as well.

‘So as a team that alone is not going to make us win. It’s like home advantage. It’s a good thing to have but you have to play well and prepare to the very best levels.

‘We shouldn’t stop our fans dreaming but as a team our focus has got to be absolute and not just take those things as an advantage.’

On Tuesday, Southgate took time out of his Euros preparations to meet the first two winners of the Nationwide Mutual Respect Campaign, which is part of the Football Association’s Respect Campaign.

Tina Jacobs, a grandmother-of-five and a football coach volunteer for 150 disabled children in Hampshire, was the Nationwide Mutual Respect Award for February.

Dan Weston, a junior football coach for Peacehaven and Telscombe FC in Sussex, was the first Nationwide Mutual Respect Award winner in January 2021.

And Southgate added: ‘Firstly, hopefully, it was a nice surprise for them.

‘They’re having a tour of St George’s as well and Dan had his son with him and Tina had her husband so it was a nice day for them.

‘What strikes you is that we’re all aware grassroots clubs and grassroots sport everywhere has been so dramatically hit and that’s not just an impact on kids and their ability to go and exercise and keep healthy, that’s community connections that have been missing and people have had to find ways of navigating that in their own communities.

‘Both Dan and Tina have managed that and kept their clubs connected, kept their communities connected, provided these food packages as well in both cases so I think it’s a reminder that sport in in our communities is such a massive, massive part of what brings people together and so many positives that come out of it.

‘I can’t imagine in our lifetime there’s been more challenging year for everybody in that regard.’

Nationwide and the FA has pledged to ensure that one million parents and coaches engage with The FA Respect campaign over the next three years. The Nationwide Mutual Respect Award, as part of The Football Association’s Respect Campaign, aims to help make grassroots football more respectful and positive. The brand-new award recognises outstanding contributions, achievements and behaviour in grassroots football across the country by young players under the age of 18, coaches, teams, parents and referees. 



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