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David Seaman: Southgate lifting a trophy would be special

10 Jun | BY David Seaman | MIN READ TIME |
David Seaman: Southgate lifting a trophy would be special

In his latest column, the former England and Arsenal No. 1 discusses the Three Lions' chances at Euro 2024 and how Gareth Southgate was as a team-mate.

England squad is full of quality

I’m feeling really confident about England’s chances at the Euros. When I look at the squad, it’s brilliant. We’ve got so much quality on the bench, and that just shows you how much we have on that field.

On paper, this is the strongest England team we’ve seen in attack. Obviously, there are question marks around the defence and who is going to be fit, but there are so many attacking options with Foden and Saka cutting in from the flanks, Harry Kane up front with Bellingham in behind, and then the solid defensive presence of Declan Rice.

The question is whether that’s Declan’s best position. We’ve seen for Arsenal that he can push on a little bit, but will he be the holding player for England with Jude in a free role? It sounds like the best option, but Declan’s got a little bit more than that.

You have to build around Jude. He is up there among the best players in the world. You can’t compare him to people like Messi and Ronaldo, because they’ve won trophies for years and years. Jude’s won La Liga and the Champions League this season, which is a great start, but he’s got to keep doing it. On form, though, he is up there, and I can’t wait to see him at the Euros in an England shirt, and hopefully celebrating a trophy as well.

I’ve always said that I want to be around when England win a trophy because it’s going to be one hell of a party, and I think this is going to be it. We’ve had great Euros before, we’ve had great World Cups, but it’s all now about winning one, and I want to be around for that.

Schmeichel tipped Denmark to impress

For our biggest rivals, you’ve got to look at teams like France, Spain and obviously Germany.

There’s a lot of history with England and Germany, and the tournament is in their home country. Sometimes Germany find it hard to qualify, but they always seem to turn up for tournaments and you have to be aware of that. With home support, they will be a threat.

Spain’s a little bit of an unknown, but I think France could be the main contender. They have a really strong, solid squad with great players at every position.

I think Denmark will be England’s biggest test in the group stage. I was chatting with Peter Schmeichel a while ago and he was very confident about Denmark. I was like: “Really?” Obviously his son is playing in goal, but when Peter says something like that, he’s very rarely wrong, so I’d be very cautious of Denmark.

England might get nine points in Group C, but as a footballer all you think about is getting through to the next stage. If being in first place gives you an easier game in the next round, then so be it, but it’s all about just qualifying and then building from there.

In Euro 96, we didn’t get off to the best start but we got better and better, and nearly went all the way.

Memories of Euro 96

I think back to Euro 96 whenever this tournament comes around. It was special. It was a time when fans were falling out of love with the national team, but I felt that we made the supporters love England again.

Seeing how the atmosphere built was brilliant. I remember walking through the old Wembley tunnel for the opening game against Switzerland, getting to the top and seeing knights on horseback running around the track! The stadium was full, there was a huge inflatable trophy in the middle of the pitch, and I was thinking: “Wow, this is really it. This is massive.”

We had a battle against Scotland, with Gazza’s goal 90 seconds after I saved Gary McAllister’s penalty – he stole all my glory! It just got bigger and better from there. There were more and more fans waiting for us outside at the hotel after each game. They started following us down the motorway in their cars and vans, with flags hanging out of the windows, and at Wembley there would be thousands cheering as the coach drove in.

We had a fantastic time then, and to actually win it this year, the excitement would be off the scale.

Southgate deserves to lift a trophy

Gareth Southgate was a great teammate of mine. He was very sensible, and I never saw him being a manager, to be honest. I knew he was tactically aware, but he just didn’t seem to have a strong character like Stuart Pearce, Tony Adams or Paul Ince. It just shows you that sometimes it’s not all about shouting, ranting and raving, it’s about instilling a friendship and togetherness, and Gareth’s done that.

I like the type of manager that Gareth is – calm and collected – because that’s a reflection of my character as well. Terry Venables was like that, and he was the best England manager I played under. When Terry was in the dressing room, he would get you riled up about playing for England, playing for the badge, and it really meant something to play for your country.

Gareth has gained a lot of respect from the players for how he’s stuck to his beliefs. People are talking about whether he’ll leave after the summer, and I think we should be careful because we’re now contending, and going into tournaments as favourites.

It would be really, really special to see Gareth lifting that trophy. I’d be so proud of him because of what he went through at Euro 96. After missing the penalty but then getting to where he is now – can you imagine how he’s going to feel if we win it? It would be brilliant.

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David Seaman

David Seaman

Legendary goalkeeper who won three league titles and four FA Cups with Arsenal, and made 75 England appearances.

David Seaman

David Seaman

Legendary goalkeeper who won three league titles and four FA Cups with Arsenal, and made 75 England appearances.