Southgate thinks English football needs to shed its island mentality
Carl Recine / Reuters

Gareth Southgate's playing career was limited to English football. He pulled on a shirt at Crystal Palace, Aston Villa, and Middlesbrough, but never anywhere outside the United Kingdom, following the path that so many of the country's footballers take.

But Southgate had a realisation at the 2014 World Cup, and it's one he wants to address as England's manager.

Speaking ahead of Wednesday's friendly between England and Germany at Signal Iduna Park, Southgate spoke of how English football must abandon its island mentality and acknowledged the Three Lions' players can benefit from taking the pitch abroad.

Of the 26 footballers called up to England for both the friendly and a 2018 World Cup qualifier versus Lithuania four days later at Wembley Stadium, only Joe Hart can claim to be playing beyond the boundaries of the United Kingdom.

"I guess what I want to do next week is have this discussion around where we want to go and the realities of where we are," Southgate said, according to the Press Association. "I always say being an island saved us in 1945, I'm not so sure it's helped us ever since.

"I think we've got to broaden the horizons. It's understandable, the lads see one league, they see Sky Sports News ... they think we're the centre of the Earth and we're not. That's what hit me (at the 2014 World Cup). I'm so used to watching the yellow ticker going round then I'm sat in Brazil and I'm not seeing us. It was quite a stark reality of where we are.

"Other countries are quite happy to say nice things to us and then they pack us off home at a certain stage and think: 'God, we've got rid of them.' That's how it feels to me and I don't like it."

To illustrate his point, Southgate referenced Hart, saying: "Joe, as an example, has had a brilliant experience. He's taken a hell of a lot from seeing another league, living abroad, broadened his horizons, recognising some of the things he had (at Manchester City) that he hasn't now got in terms of training facilities. I think he'll come back a more mature goalkeeper and a more mature person.

"I guess there's a national characteristic abut that (not moving abroad) and the finance of our league isn't going to help that, which is the reality. But it would be interesting. We have some younger players doing it now, Lewis Baker's had a very good spell in Holland for example. Will it be commonplace? I don't know. Maybe lads will have to go away to play matches because opportunities are disappearing here."

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Southgate thinks English football needs to shed its island mentality
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