England manager Gareth Southgate showed true sportsmanship last night (July 3), when he comforted a Colombia player who missed an all-important penalty.
All sense of rivalry pushed aside, the 47-year-old set a stellar example for his young team as he consoled Colombia’s Mateus Uribe.
Uribe looked distraught following England’s advancement to the quarter-finals, having hit the crossbar for Colombia.
Fortunately, the elder ex-footballer was there to support him like one of his own; putting his arms around him in an encouraging embrace.
Gareth Southgate consoling devasted Colombia players last night.
A class act. ? pic.twitter.com/L2e1qMXUbD
— Soccer AM (@SoccerAM) July 4, 2018
I do like Gareth Southgate.
— Tanni Grey-Thompson (@Tanni_GT) July 3, 2018
Gareth Southgate made so proud to be English last night, his compassion towards the Colombia players who were distraught at losing was humbling, he knows he's been there, the way this man conducts himself, his integrity/honesty/empathy is a joy to see #ENGCOL, now for Sat #ENGSWE
— Loz Argyle (@ArgyleLoz) July 4, 2018
Gareth Southgate looks like a father whose rules you follow, not because he's tough, but because you don't want to let him down
— Zito (@_Zeets) July 3, 2018
During his time as an England player, Southgate learnt the bitterness of disappointment on such a high level too. The empathy he felt with the tearful, 27-year-old Uribe was palpable.
Back at Euro ’96, Southgate missed the decisive spot-kick for England during a devastating semi-final defeat at the hands of Germany.
Many have drawn comparisons between the picture of Southgate and Uribe and the scenes of a forlorn Southgate being comforted by his then-manager, Terry Venables.
Gareth Southgate though, so forward looking, unassuming, fiercely protective of his men, like a silent fucking fortress for good. Absolutely loving his style and strategy. He’s our man.
— SG (@sharonGOONer) July 3, 2018
Mr Gareth Southgate, an apology: Some England fans may inadvertently have given the impression they thought you didn’t know what you’re doing. England playing Sweden next instead of Brazil is why they claim now they recognised you’re a tournament management tactical genius
— Kevin Maguire (@Kevin_Maguire) July 3, 2018
Gareth Southgate leading an England team to a penalty victory 20 years after he missed ‘that’ goal is an M Night Shyamalan movie waiting to happen. #ENGCOL
— Matt Edmondson (@MattEdmondson) July 3, 2018
It seems Southgate has learnt from the kindness shown to him by Venables all those years ago and has since channelled this into his own leadership style.
Perhaps one day Uribe will find himself in a similar position, and will choose to follow Southgate’s example.
Many fans have taken to social media to express their admiration for ‘classy’ Southgate.
Piers Morgan tweeted:
Gareth Southgate, whose penalty miss sent England out of Euro ’96, comforts Colombia’s Mateus Uribe after he missed his penalty last night.
The more I see of Mr Southgate, the more impressive he gets. Very classy, very strong guy.
Roger Bennett from NBC tweeted:
What must that have felt like for Gareth Southgate?
To turn your own personal trauma – the missed penalty in the semi final of Euro 1996 – into a life lesson and use that life lesson to lead your nation to Victory.
Gareth Southgate, whose penalty miss sent England out of Euro '96, comforts Colombia’s Mateus Uribe after he missed his penalty last night.
The more I see of Mr Southgate, the more impressive he gets.
Very classy, very strong guy. pic.twitter.com/qM1bSUw1So
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) July 4, 2018
The most poignant image from England v Colombia. Gareth Southgate consoling Mateus Uribe over his missed penalty. pic.twitter.com/RS7RjJqAA8
— Paul Sng (@sng_paul) July 4, 2018
Watching Gareth Southgate’s face in 1996 was genuinely grim, everyone felt his pain. Whatever happens, he’ll always be a happier guy. That’s pretty sweet.
— Owen Jones? (@OwenJones84) July 3, 2018
What must that have felt like for Gareth Southgate? To turn your own personal trauma – the missed penalty in the semi final of Euro 1996 – into a life lesson and use that life lesson to lead your nation to Victory ???????? pic.twitter.com/VEtD0Idcsp
— roger bennett (@rogbennett) July 3, 2018
According to TalkSport, Southgate recently spoke about what he learned from his infamous penalty heartache:
I’ve learned a million things from that day and the years that followed it.
When something goes wrong in your life it doesn’t finish you, and you should become braver, knowing that you’ve got to go for things in life and don’t regret because you didn’t try to be as good as you might be.
Speaking after England’s victory against Colombia, Southgate addressed the media with the same composure and optimism which has earned him so much respect during the tournament:
Today was a special night for every Englishman – the fans that were here were outnumbered but I’m delighted for them and everyone at home.
We’re trying to write our own history and I’ve talked to the players about that. They write their own stories. We don’t have to be bowed by the pressure of the past.
This was special but I want us to go on. I don’t want to go home yet.
What a great role model the current England team have.
Whether or not football’s coming home this year, Southgate has already proven himself to be an absolute national treasure.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.