Well, who would have thought it?
England in the 2018 World Cup semifinals, only the third time its been done.
A month ago, I would have laughed at you at such a thought but look at them now.
Let me be the first to admit, I was pretty dismissive of their chances but in this epic tournament, so many things have happened that were beyond expectations.
So I hold my hands up and apologise, eating a large slice of humble pie in the process.
Southgate, an ordinary club manager, has shown he has ability to bring a team of youngsters and make them into something amazing. There appears to be little club ego within the players he has brought together and they, in return, have proved themselves and also his methods.
What didn’t work for him at Middlesbrough, has worked now at the highest levels of football. Southgate may be one of those rare breeds of quality, a National team coach for whom club football doesn’t fit.
When you think the qualifying campaign starting off in 2016, it was Sam Allardyce in charge and Wayne Rooney was in the team. I don’t think, with that set up, England would have got out of the group stages.
Look at the players Southgate brought together; Kane, Pickford, Trippier and Maguire to name just a few.
Many of them weren’t even on the national team radar at the start of qualifying but look at them now! Pickford hadn’t been a regular at club level until he joined Everton, Trippier made a name at Burnley before joining Spurs, and Harry Maguire was struggling to settle in at Hull City in 2016.
In many respects, the team’s performances have allowed many disillusioned national team supporters to reconnect with them, myself being one of them. Although the trophy will not be coming back with them, what they have achieved is comparable to the last England World Cup semifinalists.
Many of the players are still not the finished article and are going to develop even further in the next couple of years.
Experience will augment their developing talents and now we have to clearly admit, this squad of players will be capable of performing even greater feats in the future.
What price for Euro 2020??