Arise Sir Gareth? Southgate tipped for a knighthood

Gareth Southgate is inevitably being tipped for a knighthood, fueled by Boris Johnson’s praise for the England manager’s "absolutely outstanding job".

The odds on Southgate becoming Sir Gareth by the end of the year must have shortened alarmingly after England defeated Denmark to reach their first major final in 55 years.

Having previously led the team to the semi-final of a World Cup in Russia in 2018, Southgate has transformed the national team from laughing stock to world beating in just five years.

The Prime Minister said on Thursday: "I obviously wouldn’t want to anticipate anything that the honours people may decide. But clearly I think Gareth Southgate has done an absolutely outstanding job.

"What seems so amazing to me is how he varies it, he mixes it up, and plays a different series of options depending on the match in question."

Julian Knight, chairman of the influential parliamentary committee covering sport, put his support behind a knighthood for the England manager.

Gareth Southgate is tipped for a knighthood after the England team's performance in Euro 2020

Credit: Han Yan/Xinhua News Agency

"Gareth Southgate is clearly a class act, who has brought the country together after an incredibly difficult period," said Mr Knight. "He is clearly a nice bloke and I think if you are giving out knighthoods he is a very obvious choice for one."

The Telegraph has been told that while the Euros is not the pinnacle of the international game, winning it would be viewed by those in charge of the honours system as being on a par with England’s Rugby World Cup and Cricket World Cup triumphs.

The former win in 2003 saw head coach Clive Woodward knighted, with the entire squad given CBEs, OBEs or MBEs.

Amid concerns too many sporting honours had been issued in the 2000s and early 2010s following England’s 2005 Ashes victory and various Olympic successes, the 2019 Cricket World Cup saw coach Trevor Bayliss receive only an OBE and just four key members of the squad decorated.

But Southgate’s complete transformation of England’s fortunes since their Euro 2016 humiliation by Iceland and the way in which he has sought to unite the country during a time of crisis is expected to be deemed worthy of a knighthood.

The only other England managers to have received the honour were Alf Ramsey, for winning the World Cup in 1966, and Bobby Robson, who took England to the 1990 semi-final – although his award in 2002 was for his wider contribution to the game.

Southgate was made an OBE in 2019 after becoming the first man since Robson to lead England to a World Cup semi-final, while Harry Kane, the England captain, was awarded an MBE for winning the Golden Boot at the 2018 tournament.

He and Raheem Sterling – who has only just received an MBE for services to racial equality – would also be in line for upgrades if England win on Sunday.

Kane, the captain, would be seen in the same light as Martin Johnson and Eoin Morgan, both of whom received CBEs after lifting the rugby and cricket World Cups respectively. Sterling, meanwhile, has been England’s most influential player during the tournament. Other gongs for members of the squad are also expected to be performance-dependent.

Anyone emulating Sir Geoff Hurst by scoring a hat-trick on Sunday would, for example, expect to receive immediate recognition for it. Hurst had to wait 32 years before being knighted for the feat.

Southgate’s evident leadership qualities prompted Gary Neville, the former England international and Manchester United captain, to compare him with Mr Johnson.

In an apparent sideswipe at the Prime Minister, Neville told about 25 million viewers watching the game on ITV: "The standard of leaders in this country the past couple of years has been poor, looking at that man [Southgate], he’s everything a leader should be, respectful, humble, he tells the truth."

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