Gareth Southgate has revealed how Alan Shearer offered tips to the England squad on Tuesday – and was given a grilling for his role in the media.
Southgate has invited former England internationals to give advice to his young players, with Sir Bobby Charlton visiting St George’s Park on Monday and John Barnes making an appearance in June.
Shearer, once England’s most lethal striker and now a pundit for the BBC’s Match of the Day, is the latest to join up with the current crop and Southgate was pleased the subject of media criticism came up.
Shearer described England’s Euro 2016 defeat by Iceland, under Roy Hodgson’s reign, as the “worst performance” he has ever seen from the national team.
“He got a bit of a grilling because of what he’s doing now,” Southgate said.
“I thought that was good. I knew that might happen. I think it’s good for the players to understand the world of the media and the requirements of the media, what you’re expected to do.
“It then helps them understand comments that are made, accept it’s not personal, most of the time, and that you guys are doing your job in the way we are.
“Of course we’re working with the team all the time, we’re clear what we’re working on, on the areas we want to improve and we’re here to win. So when I was a player and when Alan was a player that criticism hurt.
“It was good for him to explain it did hurt him as a player as well. He recognises that fact so those stories are really helpful.”
England face Slovenia at Wembley on Thursday, knowing victory will guarantee their place at next summer’s World Cup with one game to spare. They end their qualifying campaign away to Lithuania on Sunday.
If progress is secured, the challenge will be to deliver at a major tournament, where England have not gone past the quarter-finals since 1996. Southgate hopes old heads can push them in the right direction.
“We’ve done this a couple of times now,” Southgate told BBC Radio 5 live.
“John Barnes came to speak with them in June. I think it’s really valuable for the players to hear the experiences of former England internationals – their pride and sense of connection to the shirt, some of the lessons, things they would do differently, the reason they thought certain campaigns were successful and others weren’t.
“And for the guys to appreciate that being in the team now is a great honour but you’re just one of the many people that have worn the shirt – don’t get too carried away with ourselves.
“These guys, Alan has 30 goals in 60 (it is 63) caps. Bobby Charlton we had with us earlier in the week. It was an incredible experience for all of us to see someone with such humility who was so touched to be recognised at St George’s Park.
“For me, it’s about creating that sense of belonging in the England squad that is really important.”