Five months after saying he lacked the experience to coach England, Gareth Southgate landed one of football's toughest roles this morning by showing he can handle the responsibility.
Gareth Southgate gestures as England's Nathaniel Clyne walks by during the international friendly soccer match between England and Spain.
Source: Associated Press
The 46-year-old Southgate pulled out of the running to succeed Roy Hodgson after England's European Championship debacle, clearing the way for Sam Allardyce's appointment in July.
But after Allardyce was forced out following one game in charge, Southgate had an unexpected chance to get a taste of coaching England for four games. Promoted from the under-21 team, Southgate passed his audition and secured a four-year contract.
"I think at that time (in July) there would have been a perception about someone being promoted internally through the organization," Southgate said.
"Having had the opportunity to prove myself over a small sample of games I have been able to show I can handle the role ... and prove to people I was capable of preparing the team for some big matches."
Southgate said he believes he is qualified to fill a role previously occupied by veteran coaches Fabio Capello and Sven-Goran Eriksson despite his only previous first-team managerial role at Middlesbrough ending in 2009 after three years.
"After the summer I have had time to reflect on the qualities I have got, the experiences I have got and how that would prepare me for this sort of a role," Southgate said.
The former England defender pointed to tournament experience as a player and in charge of the under-21 team, which saw him work with much of the current senior squad.
Having had the opportunity to prove myself over a small sample of games I have been able to show I can handle the role."
"I've thoroughly enjoyed working with the players over these past four games and I think there's huge potential," Southgate said of his unbeaten run as interim coach.
Southgate secured World Cup qualifying wins over Malta and Scotland, a draw against Slovenia, and a 2-2 draw against Spain in a friendly. He seemed at ease in the role and even showed some backbone by dropping captain Wayne Rooney in his second match as interim coach.
Southgate was the only person the English Football Association interviewed this time, with the governing body saying it looked into a "number of managers" before Allardyce was hired in July.
"The job was really to assess Gareth against that group of people we looked at before," FA chief executive Martin Glenn said of the five-man panel which interviewed Southgate.
Glenn said Southgate displayed "great confidence, he really knows what he is talking about and he understands how to motivate players."
"You can see, like all of us, he has still got things to learn," Glenn said, "and we got a better idea about the ways we can put support around him to ensure he can be successful."
England won the 1966 World Cup, but has only reached the semifinals of a tournament twice since then. The last time was at Euro '96 when Southgate missed the decisive penalty in a shootout against Germany — the current team's next opponent in March.