Until the World Cup, Gareth Southgate’s name had long been a byword for disappointment; his strongest claim to a place in the national consciousness was his missed penalty at Euro 96. But having led his young, diverse team to a World Cup semi-final, the England coach is now associated with something different: a new sense of hope about what the English experience can be. He is the anti-Trump: humble, modest, empathetic. The national mood, so often rancorous and gloomy, has been lifted by a glorious World Cup and the heatwave. The England matches attracted the biggest television audiences of the year and gave a polarised country a rare gift: shared national joy.
Articulate, honest and self-critical, Mr Southgate is a model of a kind of masculinity largely absent from a public life dominated by hucksters and strongmen. As the delights of a memorable World Cup campaign fade, the thoughtfulness and decency of the England manager will endure.
This article appears in the 18 Jul 2018 issue of the New Statesman, The Trump-Putin pact