Euro 2024: Reaching the final is my greatest achievement – Southgate
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Euro 2024: Reaching the final is my greatest achievement – Southgate

Gareth Southgate has said that leading England to their first major tournament final on foreign soil is the greatest achievement of his coaching career.

Substitute Ollie Watkins scored the winning goal in the 90th minute to earn England a 2-1 victory over the Netherlands in Dortmund, and will face Spain in the European Championship final in Berlin on Sunday.

Earlier, Xavi Simons had given the Netherlands the lead in the seventh minute with a superb long-range strike before Harry Kane equalised in the 18th minute, conceding a penalty following a VAR review following a foul by Denzel Dumfries on the England captain.

Southgate, who took over as England manager in 2016, has guided the team to a quarter-final, semi-final and two finals in the four tournaments he has entered.

England have never before reached a major final on foreign soil, losing the last Euro final at Wembley on penalties to Italy. Their only tournament success was winning the World Cup in 1966, again in London.

Asked where he placed Wednesday’s achievement in his eight-year tenure, Southgate told ITV: “Yeah, I think it’s got to be the best. It’s another milestone but the way we played, we played so well throughout the game.”

Southgate has come under heavy criticism for what many believe was an overly cautious approach, with his team booed twice early in the tournament and having pints thrown at him after England’s 0-0 group stage draw with Slovenia.

“We all want to be loved, don’t we? When you do something for your country and you’re a proud Englishman, and you don’t feel that in return and all you read is criticism, it’s hard,” Southgate told a news conference.

“To be able to celebrate a second final is something very, very special. Especially the fans who travel. Our travel support is amazing, the money they spend, the commitment to do it, to be able to give them a night like this – and we’ve given them a few in the last six years, from Russia on up – it means a lot.

“If I wasn’t on the grass, I’d be watching and celebrating like them. We’re kindred spirits in a lot of ways. Of course, I have to pick the team. To be able to give them a night like tonight is very, very special.”

Southgate has confirmed Kieran Trippier is a doubt for the Spain clash after being substituted at half-time against the Netherlands with a groin injury.