Gareth Southgate talks to Chris Burton about his plans for the future and reflects on his work with the Football Association
Last Updated: 17/09/12 12:18pm
Gareth Southgate claims his future is 'very much an open book' with the former Middlesbrough boss and Football Association head of elite development ruling nothing out.
The 42-year-old slipped straight into management after hanging up his boots, taking in a three-year spell in charge of Middlesbrough.
Once one chapter in a career which has seen him play international football for England and coach at a Premier League level came to a close, another one opened.
Southgate accepted a role with the FA and was charged with the task of putting the building blocks in place at youth level that will eventually benefit the senior side.
A number of proposals he put forward have been implemented, while he also played a leading role in the development of a national football centre at St Georges Park.
Southgate felt he had taken the role as far as he could, though, and is now looking to take on a new challenge after stepping down from his FA post in July.
"I'm still involved in one or two projects," he told Sky Sports.
"I enjoy coaching. I help coach a few local junior teams. But I have no clear plan at the moment. I very much enjoyed the 18 months working with the FA, it was great education, and it was great to be involved in some of the plans for St Georges and particularly getting the change in the formats for youth football, which I think was vitally important. The future is very much an open book for me."
Asked if he was closing any doors, such as that on a return to club management, Southgate added: "No, not at all. I have got three-and-a-half years of experience of managing in the Premier League. We will just have to see what the future holds."
"It's important that, especially for the junior England teams, that they feel like they have a home and can watch the senior teams train and work alongside them, mix with them. We just have to make sure that the right people are employed now to make sure that the coaching and the events that they put on there are inspiring for future coaches."
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For now, Southgate finds himself in a position of being able to look back on the work he undertook with the FA with pride - with it his opinion that England are building towards a brighter future.
He said: "I think it's improving. I think there is a lot of emphasis on improving the quality of coaching young players, which is important. There is a big review of the club academies going on and an audit of those, which I think is very important.
"What's pleasing is that youngsters that have played for England at junior level, like Jack Butland and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, are now coming into the seniors and producing for them. It's important that those England junior teams get the support they need. Tournament experience and international experience at a younger age will help the players. Danny Welbeck played with the U17s, U19s, went to a tournament with the U21s, so when he was called upon in the summer, being away at the tournament wasn't something new for him and he was able to cope with it a lot more comfortably."
On the construction of St Georges Park, a centre which helps to bring England in line with the most competitive nations in European football, Southgate added: "It's something we should have had for a long time, but it's great that it's there now. It's important that, especially for the junior England teams, that they feel like they have a home and can watch the senior teams train and work alongside them, mix with them. We just have to make sure that the right people are employed now to make sure that the coaching and the events that they put on there are inspiring for future coaches."
St Georges Park has helped to offer English football a focal point, a base for players and coaches of all ages to train and develop their game - something the sport has lacked since the School of Excellence at Lilleshall was closed in 1999.
Southgate said: "Lilleshall was a national school, so this is slightly different because we didn't own Lilleshall, it was a national sports centre and it wasn't a home for English football.
"It was a shame that the national school at Lilleshall went because it was at a point where the players that were coming through from that school - people like sol Campbell, Nick Barmby, Jamie Carragher - there were a lot towards the end that went on to play a lot of football for England's senior side. They got it up and running well, got the selection of players honed to a better level and it's a great shame that it is something that isn't there anymore."
Gareth Southgate was speaking on behalf of williamhill.com, Europe's leading gaming and sports betting business and Official Supporter to both the England team and The FA Cup.