BONUS | Gareth Southgate: Anything is Possible


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RE-RELEASE: This episode first aired in December 2020.

Today’s guest joins me fresh from a run of autumn camps with the England football team. He’s their manager, Gareth Southgate OBE, and I speak to him about his new book, Anything Is Possible. It’s not really a football memoir, but more a guide to life and there are brilliant lessons for all of us in there – non-football fans included!

Gareth had an illustrious career as a professional football player in the 1990s and as England manager, took the England team to the semi-finals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup for the first time in 28 years. We discuss how Gareth achieved this by employing psychologists (such as my former guest Pippa Grange), modelling emotional intelligence and communicating with each player as an individual. He promotes a mindset of positive drivers not negative drivers: focusing on what players might achieve, rather than what might go wrong. Most importantly, he reinstated a sense of fun. I love his humble, warm, inclusive approach. Under his watch, footballers have started to look more like role models again.

Gareth explains how he used to be a shy teenage player and with his book, he aims to help youngsters get over self-limiting beliefs, nerves and anxieties and learn to be brave – and he shares some great dressing-room stories with me as examples. It may be written for children and young people, with Gareth’s role as ambassador for The Prince’s Trust in mind, but it contains universal wisdom for all ages.

I had so much to ask him, and we managed to cover topics from how players cope without a crowd, to how he breaks the news when someone’s not made the team and the real meaning of bravery. We talk about the pressures on players from social media but also how it can be a force for good, helping Raheem Stirling and Marcus Rashford change attitudes and lives through their respective campaigns against racism and childhood hunger.

I can’t emphasize enough that you don’t need to be into football to appreciate this conversation. It’s about having confidence, working hard, taking responsibility and being authentic. It was such an honour to speak with Gareth and he’s certainly reignited my love of the beautiful game. I can’t help but agree with him that when we come together in a positive way over sport, it has the potential to change the world. I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did.

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