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Gareth Southgate is all smiles in the run-up to Sunday’s final against Italy 

Hang on, I think I can just see the trophy from here! Gareth Southgate is all smiles as he peers out from a golf buggy in the run-up to Sunday’s final against Italy

  • Gareth Southgate was all smiles ahead of the final against Italy at Wembley 
  • He showed not a hint of tension at St George’s Park football centre, Staffordshire
  • He could be first England manager to claim major tournament since Alf Ramsey 

He’s on the brink of the greatest match in English footballing history since 1966.

But yesterday Gareth Southgate showed not even a hint of tension in the run up to tomorrow night’s final against Italy at Wembley.

Instead, the England manager was a picture of calm at the St George’s Park football centre in Staffordshire.

Having steered the side unbeaten through the tournament – including a win over Germany and the semi-final victory against Denmark – he could now become the first England manager to claim a major tournament since Sir Alf Ramsey.

Gareth Southgate showed not even a hint of tension in the run up to the final against Italy at Wembley

Asked about the mounting national excitement, he said: ‘I guess for me it hasn’t really totally registered because I’m not reading those front pages and I’m not tuning into those bulletins.

‘But I’m noticing the journey to the stadium – the tooting of the horns, the flags on the cars, so I’m starting to get a feel of exactly what’s going on and I suppose in the back of my mind I know what’s going on but I’ve tried to put it to one side really and keep focused on what we’re doing.’

Southgate’s success and congenial personality have earned him extraordinary popularity, a survey has found.

Figures published by YouGov yesterday showed 66 per cent of adults surveyed having a favourable view of Southgate, with only five per cent an unfavourable view.

The numbers for Prime Minister Boris Johnson were 39 per cent favourable and 54 per cent unfavourable, while it was 26 and 55 per cent respectively for Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer. 

The England manager was a picture of calm at the St George's Park football centre in Staffordshire

The England manager was a picture of calm at the St George’s Park football centre in Staffordshire

He’s also got serious fans in the Lords. A peer said the manager should be honoured with a statue opposite Parliament if England win.

Liberal Democrat Lord Thomas of Gresford suggested a memorial next to one of Boudica on Westminster Bridge for what would be England’s first competitive win over Italy on English soil since the Celtic Queen defeated occupying Roman forces in Colchester almost 2,000 years ago. 

The 84-year-old quipped in the Lords: ‘I think it would be quite appropriate if a statue of Gareth Southgate would be placed next to hers on Westminster Bridge if England can repeat her victory.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk