Gareth Southgates admits he was seconds away from making England mistake which would've potentially cost him his job

England were on the verge of being knocked out.

England manager Gareth Southgate has admitted he was moments away from making a decision in their last-16 clash against Slovakia that would have changed everything.

It looked like England were heading for an embarrassing exit at Euro 2024 after going 1-0 down early on.

The Three Lions struggled to break down Slovakia’s sturdy back line and many were convinced it was their time for the exit as their lacklustre efforts from previous group stage games continued.

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But in a dramatic twist to Sunday’s game in Gelsenkirchen, Jude Bellingham netted an incredible bicycle kick in the 95th minute before Harry Kane netted in extra-time to seal their place in the quarter-final.

After the full-time whistle, a relieved Gareth Southgate admitted he almost subbed off Bellingham as the Real Madrid midfielder struggled to make an impact on the game.

“We were thinking should we take him off, but you know he is capable of those sorts of moments,” Southgate said. “With 15 minutes to go you wonder if he is out on his feet.

“We know in the game itself we needed to better with the ball, we couldn’t find the right solutions in the first half and we did it better in the second.

 

“Under that pressure they kept probing. In the end it is the old fashioned long throw that gets the goal, those moments can happen when you keep wearing a team down.”

Image credit: Getty
Image credit: Getty

Southgate went on to admit that he almost brought off Harry Kane before he netted in extra-time.

“Harry and Jude, you are ­looking and ­thinking: ‘Should we be refreshing those ­positions?’ But you know they are capable of doing what they did,” he added.

 

“When people want changes, you have to keep some balance to the team and do things you think will definitely improve. I think pretty much all the changes we have made this tournament have had an impact.”

In his post-match comments, Bellingham hit back at England’s critics after their last-16 win against Slovakia.

Explaining why he celebrated his goal by raising his arms and shouting “Who else?” before gesturing a talking expression with his hand, the midfielder didn’t hold back.

“It’s a combination of a lot of things,” he said. “Playing for England is an enjoyable feeling but it’s also a lot of pressure. You hear people talk a lot of rubbish. It’s nice when you can deliver and give them a little bit back.”

 

Bellingham added: “It’s very difficult when you talk in press conferences and interviews to talk as openly as footballers want to because they’re always judged. For me, football, being on the pitch, scoring goals and celebrating is my release.

“Maybe it was a message to a few people. I was very happy at the end, lots of adrenaline.”

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When asked what he meant by the “rubbish” comments, Bellingham added: “You know what I mean by the rubbish. Playing for England should be the most proud moment of your career but often it’s quite difficult.

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“There’s a really high intense pressure. The fans expect a lot from us regardless of what happened in recent tournaments years and years ago.

“People talk a lot. You do have to take it personally a little bit. We work so hard at this game.

“We come in every day, we work hard to put on a performance for the fans, sometimes it doesn’t go well and sometimes it feels like there’s a a bit of a pile on, it’s not nice to hear.

“But you can always use it and for moments like that, it’s nice to throw it back to some people.”