England boss Gareth Southgate has explained the crucial role Ed Sheeran played in the side’s 2-0 win over Germany on Tuesday.
Before the game, the squad was “treated” to a concert by the flame-haired strummer as a way to give back what they have given to the football world in their opening-round games – teeth-grinding tedium.
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And such was the impact of the performance that Southgate’s half-time team talk against Germany consisted of just one question, “You want more of THIS?!” followed by 15 minutes of the “This is Ed Sheeran” Spotify playlist.
“I could see the fear in their eyes as they ran out for the second half”, the 50-year-old explained after his side’s famous win.
“I knew then and there we had it in the bag.”
And the England boss admitted he’d thought about requesting the singer, who was in the crowd at the game, come down for an impromptu display if it remained deadlocked after 90 minutes.
“He’d brought his guitar and all. I wouldn’t have been afraid to use it.”
He also explained that he deliberately opted for an act who so closely resembles a 0-0 bore draw against Scotland that he’s even incorporated the Tartan Army wig into his stage persona.
Reports suggest Southgate had considered live music from Mumford & Sons, but their banjo player’s eccentric library record – including an outstanding 50p fine dating from 1998 – was just that little bit too edgy and the 30-year-old chart-topping troubadour offered a truer reflection of what his players bring to a football match.
“I asked myself, what is the most boring thing a person could subject themselves to for 90 minutes, aside from watching my England side? Filling out a tax return? Back-to-back episodes of Question Time? Talk to James Milner?” Southgate confessed.
“No, it has to be an Ed Sheeran gig.
“The boys have earned this for what they’ve brought to millions of fans around the world.”
“It was vital we didn’t bring in an artist who could stir positive energy, deliver an upbeat atmosphere or give any of the players any ideas about being brave or creative. We needed that middle of the road vibe to ensure we continue on the same trajectory of creating as little as possible in the final third, and strangling the life and soul out of every match.
“Sheeran bored his way to the top of the charts as we are going to bore our way to Euro success.”
Paddy Power News managed to grab a quick word with Jack Grealish after the concert, who hadn’t quite grasped what was going on – “I didn’t realise Kevin De Bruyne could play the guitar.”
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