Southgate thrilled to dance with his players as England through to semis
text size

Southgate thrilled to dance with his players as England through to semis

England players celebrate after winning the penalty shootout. (Reuters photo)
England players celebrate after winning the penalty shootout. (Reuters photo)

DUESSELDORF: Barely a week after furious fans hurled beer cups and insults at Gareth Southgate, the England manager danced with his players in front of the team's supporters on Saturday after a thrilling shootout victory launched them into the Euro 2024 semi-finals.

Southgate's men defeated Switzerland 5-3 on penalties after regulation ended 1-1, with Arsenal forward Bukayo Saka scoring a brilliant equalizer when he cut in from the right wing and curled a blistering 20-metre left-footed shot in off the far post following Breel Embolo's opener.

Southgate's 100th game as England boss was his team's best in an uninspiring tournament that has seen the 53-year-old come under fire and speculation swirl about his future in the job.

"Every now and then you think 'Surely there has to be some enjoyment in this job?'. So if I can't enjoy that moment, then the whole thing is a waste of time," the normally unflappable Southgate said, on letting loose to dance with his players.

The win put England in their third semi-final in four tournaments, where they will face either Turkey or the Netherlands.

"I love the players, I love being in that moment with them. I took this job to try and improve English football. I wanted us to regain credibility on a world stage. So I can't deny that when it's as personal as it's been in the last few weeks on a human level, that's quite difficult," Southgate said.

"But we're fighting. We're not going to stop fighting. And as I said, we're in another semi-final and we'll see where we can get to."

Cole Palmer, Jude Bellingham, Saka, Ivan Toney and Trent Alexander-Arnold converted from the penalty spot to clinch the win. The Liverpool defender joyously grabbed the ball as it rebounded out of the goal and booted it high into the air as his teammates hurtled forward in celebration.

"We were watching the (Spain-Germany) game last night and I spoke to them about it, just about playing well. Spain mixed their game up. They took seven yellow cards. They found ways to win," Southgate said.

"These players are showing all those other attributes, dealing with everything that's around us. Twice coming from behind in games, now a penalty shootout where their composure was impeccable. So I'm so, so proud of them.

"We've been in four (shootouts), we've won three. We got absolutely crucified for the one we lost."

Southgate was particularly pleased for Saka, who was subjected to racial abuse after missing the decisive penalty in their Euro 2020 final loss to Italy.

"I gave him a massive cuddle on the pitch," the manager said. "He's a special boy. He's a dream to work with. Wonderful family. And, of course, you're pleased for everybody, but for him especially when his went in."

Do you like the content of this article?