Zum 40. Geburtstag von Gareth Southgate

»A true Middlesbrough legend«

Seit er denken kann, hält unser Gastautor David John Watton dem Middlesbrough FC die Treue. Zum 40. Geburtstag von Gareth Southgate würdigt er dessen Verdienste für den Klub aus Englands Norden. Eine Hommage. Zum 40. Geburtstag von Gareth Southgate Gareth Southgate is the single finest central defender I've ever seen play football in all my time watching the Premier League. Coming from Aston Villa as the first signing of new Middlesbrough manager Steve McClaren, he was consistently the best player in Boro’s »glory years« – reading the play, never making a mistake, cool, calm, fantastic in the air, like a captain from a more innocent age. He was captain for five years, lifting Boro's first and only trophy in 134 years of history: the Carling Cup in 2004. For a while the lamp-posts all the way down Middlesbrough High Street were decorated with giant flags, which showed Southgate’s face. A true Middlesbrough legend.


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He is the definition of a good man in a bad world: intelligent, sensitive, diplomatic, and an absolutely fantastic footballer. During Steve McClaren's last season at Boro a fan came on the pitch and threw his season ticket at him. After this event, Gareth Southgate actually took over as team-manager behind the scenes, when Boro were 17th in the league. We finished 12th, got to the FA Cup semi-final and the UEFA Cup Final. Southgate missed this game through injury and we lost 0-4 to Sevilla.

Just too nice for this world

So when McClaren, somehow got the England job, Middlesbrough-chairman Steve Gibson promised the fans »A World-Class Manager« to take over, given our raised European profile and expectations. He offered the job to Ottmar Hitzfeld but finally changed his mind, saying he didn't want the team to become »Middlesbrough-on-the-Rhine«. He eventually gave the job to Southgate, who had just finished his final season as Boro’s player of the year. He was 35 and completely unqualified – we were relegated and 90 million pounds in debt three seasons later. 

Gareth Southgate as a manager was just too nice for this world, trying to build a cheaper version of Arsenal. He engaged lots of quick, young forward players who didn't score goals but liked passing the ball around in pretty triangles. An England U-21 international from the Middlesbrough academy apparently said about him: »Gareth? Really, really nice guy... Fucking useless manager.« Southgate now is a pundit on ITV and a columnist for The Times.  

Missing the key penalty – but saw the funny side

His England career can be summed up by two games: being played in centre midfield by tactical retard Kevin Keegan in the last game at Wembley against Germany, losing 0-1; and missing the key penalty in Euro 96 against the old enemy again. At least he, Chris Waddle, Stuart Pearce and the Pizza Hut Corporation saw the funny side:
 




My favourite Gareth Southgate line is the joke that went around the North East of England. Middlesbrough had Gareth as captain, former Real Madrid player Jonathan Woodgate had just signed for Newcastle, and Sunderland were making a return to the Premier League.  

Q: What Gate do the three North East teams have in common? 
A: Southgate – Woodgate – Relegate  

Later, when Southgate and Woodgate played alongside each other for Boro and we nearly got relegated, it wasn't quite so funny.  

Anyway, happy birthday Gareth!

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