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Gareth Southgate always believed in England against Slovakia: ‘I wasn’t ready to go home yet’


Gareth Southgate always believed in England against Slovakia: ‘I wasn’t ready to go home yet’

Gareth Southgate says he always believed England would score the goal they needed to stay at Euro 2024 and said he “wasn’t ready to go home yet” after they saved their tournament against Slovakia.

England were seconds away from being knocked out in their last-16 game, only for Jude Bellingham — thanks to a sensational overhead kick — to equalise with almost the last kick of normal time.

Captain Harry Kane then headed in what proved to be the winner after a minute of extra time to book their place in the quarter-finals.

It was once again a frustrating performance from Southgate’s side, who failed to register a single shot on target until Bellingham’s dramatic equaliser in the 95th minute.

Southgate, though, says he always had faith that the team would find a breakthrough.

“I had belief right the way through that we’d get the goal,” he said. “I didn’t think it would be as late as it was. I wasn’t ready to go home yet and clearly the players felt the same way.”

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Bellingham and Kane saved England (Carl Recine/Getty Images)

England now face Switzerland, a team who have hugely impressed so far and eliminated defending champions Italy to reach the last eight.

Asked whether he will ride the emotion or look at things more analytically ahead of Saturday’s game, Southgate said: “Obviously as the manager, I’ll do all those things, build on the spirit they showed, the belief gained from that.

“Equally, I’m not naive, we’re going to play a team who have looked outstanding not just in this tournament but for quite a while, it will be a big tactical challenge for us.

“We know the level of our game will need to be higher. But there was spirit, there was togetherness that has been building. We’ve had a lot of problems to solve through the whole lead-in to this camp and through the tournament. We’re putting a plaster over different things, giving young players opportunities, we’re somehow finding a way.

“I can imagine how everyone is going to react to that, even though we won, but we’re still in there. One thing that can’t be questioned is the desire, the commitment, the character.”

(Top photo: Carl Recine/Getty Images)

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