Ever since England’s World Cup squad was announced, the marked change in attitude emanating from within the camp has been vastly different from any other tournament.
Far from being reclusive and locked away from the media, everyone has been open, happy to talk and enjoy the experience – something that’s clearly paying dividends on the pitch having come from the man at the top.
Gareth Southgate – who will be lifting the World Cup trophy on behalf of the nation in just over a week’s time – has been nothing short a revelation at Russia 2018. His passionate, patriotic, and overall nice guy demeanor has earned himself enormous praise, not least on social media.
The #GarethSouthgateWould hashtag has taken off on Twitter recently, praising the gaffer’s friendly nature with tongue-in-cheek scenarios. Now, in a 100%-definitely-not-piss-taking Paddy Power exclusive*, we can reveal the England squad are getting in on the fun themselves – along with a contribution from the man himself…
#GarethSouthgateWould never get angry about giving away a corner in the last minute, even if it meant injuring half a football squad in extra time. Instead, he would thank you for the extra value for money it gave all the fans in the stadium.
#GarethSouthgateWould teach himself how to become a masseur so he could be the first man over to help anyone with cramp and give the physio a well-deserved day off.
#GarethSouthgateWould activate money cheats on your Football Manager game so you could ensure your club buys players you’ve actually heard of.
#GarethSouthgateWould stay behind after training to help you practice penalties, then let you head off while he collects all the cones on his own.
#GarethSouthgateWould tell you to write a letter of apology in neat joined up handwriting for celebrating in an opponent’s face in case doing so had hurt their feelings.
#GarethSouthgateWould read you the BFG in a soft, soothing voice, complete with dramatic sound effects, to help you get to sleep if you’re nervous before a big game.
#GarethSouthgateWould take a Strictly Come Dancing scoring paddle everywhere with him to give you a 10/10 for a dance celebration, no matter how cringeworthy it is.
#GarethSouthgateWould sit down and make you watch his missed penalty at Euro 96 with him and say, “At least you weren’t as bad as me!” before offering to rustle up a cup of tea and some custard creams.
#GarethSouthgateWould offer to wash the captain’s armband after every game, before asking if your mum needs any ironing done while he’s at it.
#GarethSouthgateWould go in goal wearing novelty-sized foam gloves during training if you’re completely unable to score against real goalkeepers to help boost your confidence.
#GarethSouthgateWould bring a case of WKD to your house party even though he’s driving and only drinking water, before offering to give people a lift home even if it’s out of his way.
#GarethSouthgateWould have no problem lending you his step ladder if you’re struggling to defend a corner, even if it meant removing everything from the garage just to get to it.
#GarethSouthgateWould happily play you in a meaningless fixture just so you can tell your mates you have featured in a World Cup.
#GarethSouthgateWould never tell you you’re actually pretty shite at football.
#GarethSouthgateWould rarely put a centre-back on penalty shootout duty because he knows exactly what it feels like if it goes wrong and wouldn’t want you to experience that as well.
#GarethSouthgateWould always reconstruct a photo of you pulling a daft face on Photoshop so you always looked at least half-respectable.
#GarethSouthgateWould buy a newborn baby a full personalised England kit, sign it, then offer to babysit if you fancied a night off.
#GarethSouthgateWould happily give you the hotel Wi-Fi code so you can play Fortnite to your heart’s content and offer to buy you a special gaming controller.
#GarethSouthgateWould send you a link to your old MySpace page along with a message that says, “Hey, just spotted this! You may want to take it down before anyone else has a few japes at your expense. Gareth x”
#GarethSouthgateWould be the first person offer you his handkerchief if a bird shat in your mouth.
#GarethSouthgateWould always ask for permission in writing to use your nickname so he knew it would never upset you.
#GarethSouthgateWould let you stay up way past your bedtime when you’re on your first summer holiday without your parents – and not tell them.
#GarethSouthgateWould tattoo your name on the back of his hand so he’d never have that awkward moment of forgetting what you’re called on the rare occasion he actually speaks to you.
#GarethSouthgateWould just drink water during the week and stuff like that, but would enjoy a few beers at the weekend.
*We may actually be taking the piss after all…