Euro 2024: Reaching final my best achievement – Southgate

Gareth Southgate has said that guiding England to a first major tournament final on foreign soil is the best achievement of his coaching career.

Substitute Ollie Watkins fired in a stunning 90th-minute winner as England came from behind to beat Netherlands 2-1 in Dortmund and set up a meeting with Spain in the European Championship final in Berlin on Sunday.

Xavi Simons had earlier given Netherlands a seventh-minute lead with a superb long-range strike before Harry Kane equalised after 18 minutes with a spot-kick awarded on VAR review following Denzel Dumfries‘ challenge on the England captain.

Southgate, who took charge of England in 2016, has now steered them to a quarterfinal, a semifinal, and two finals in his four tournaments at the helm.

England have never before reached a major final on foreign soil, having lost the last Euros final at Wembley on penalties to Italy. Their only tournament success came in lifting 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 has to be the best. It’s another landmark, but the way that we played as well, we played so well throughout the game.”

Southgate has faced strong personal criticism for what many believe is an excessively cautious approach with his team booed off twice earlier in the tournament while beer cups were thrown in his direction after England’s 0-0 group stage draw with Slovenia.

“We all want to be loved, right? When you are doing something for your country and you are a proud Englishman, when you don’t feel that back and all you read is criticism, it is hard,” Southgate told a news conference.

“To be able to celebrate a second final is very, very special. Especially the fans that travel. Our travelling support is amazing, the money they spend, the commitment to do that, to be able to give them a night like this — and we have given them a few over the last six years from Russia onwards — it means a lot.

“If I hadn’t been on the grass, I’d have been watching, celebrating like they were. We’re kindred spirits in many ways. Of course, I’m the one that has to pick a team. To be able to give them a night like tonight is very, very special.”

Southgate confirmed Kieran Trippier is a doubt to face Spain after being substituted at halftime against Netherlands with a groin problem.