Former England defender Rio Ferdinand admits club loyalties have ‘destroyed’ past England teams and feels Gareth Southgate has found a way of healing any rifts.
England have been perennial underachievers at tournaments over the years. Victory in the 1966 World Cup is all they have to show for years of trying to conquer the footballing world. There have been memorable moments, with a march to the semi-finals of Euro 96 living long in the memory.
The three Lions also made the last four at the 1990 World Cup and, more recently, at Russia 2018. But the cupboard is bare as they have time and again fluffed their lines on the biggest stage.
That has not been the case this time around as Harry Kane and his men has responded well to any situation.
Ferdinand was part of an England team on 81 occasions. And he has now lifted the lid on why there has been so much heartache at major events.
“I genuinely believe that [club rivalries destroyed previous teams],” he told BBC Sport. “It just consumed you, there was nothing from the England squad from the manager downwards that made you feel any different.”
“I think that is where Gareth Southgate separates himself from the other managers, he’s gone in and identified that this team needs to be together,” he added.
“I am going to create a culture, a winning mentality and a mentality where we are all together. Togetherness is of the utmost importance.”
Shearer shares Rio’s Southgate views
Alan Shearer played 63 times for England and scored 30 goals. He was in the famous Euro 96 side that lost to Germany on penalties, scoring England’s opening goal at Wembley.
“We’ve got a magnificent training complex, we’ve got a smart, intelligent manager who understands what it takes to play for your country,” he told the BBC.
“He knows how to break the cliques up and make everyone feel involved. Even after games, he’s first to mention the guys who haven’t played to make them feel involved and it’s such a special feeling.
“Being away for five weeks in a bubble isn’t easy. Gareth has made it fun and they are getting their results now.”