Gareth Southgate

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Nations League: English, Dutch battle for place in final

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GUIMARAES, Portugal (AP) England is aiming to translate the recent European dominance of its clubs to the international stage when it meets the Netherlands on Thursday in UEFA’s inaugural Nations League tournament.

England is looking for its first international trophy since winning the 1966 World Cup, but a resurgent Dutch squad stands in its path to Sunday’s final.

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“We want to be in the habit of starting to win things,” England coach Gareth Southgate said on the eve of the Nations League semifinal.

England is in high spirits after reaching the semifinals of the World Cup last year. Also, the Premier League provided all four clubs in the recent Champions League and Europa league finals – an unprecedented feat.

“We’ve got players who are capable and hungry,” Southgate said in Guimaraes in northern Portugal. “We’ve shown incredible adaptability and resilience in the team.”

With a head-to-head record of six wins each and nine draws, the encounter is likely to be a tight affair between two teams that are on the up. England edged the Dutch 1-0 in a friendly game last year.

The Netherlands’ trophy cupboard has had no new additions since the 1988 European Championship title, when its current coach Ronald Koeman was still playing for the national team.

After failing to qualify for the 2016 European Championship and the 2018 World Cup finals, the Dutch got back on track by knocking out World Cup-winner France and powerhouse Germany to reach the Nations League final four.

“We’re playing (against) a very good team,” Southgate said. “I think it’s going to be a really exciting game.”

Koeman said Southgate has done “a fantastic job” by putting together a squad of young, gifted players.

“They have strong players, they have technical players, they have fast players,” Koeman said.

Dutch defender Virgil Van Dijk, who won the Champions League title with Liverpool last weekend, said he expects a tough and evenly-balanced game.

“They’re definitely full of confidence, but we should be as well,” he said.

The winner plays the final on Sunday in Porto, meeting host Portugal, while the loser goes into the third-place match versus Switzerland in Guimaraes earlier the same day.

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Kane, Sterling, Sancho headline England squad for UEFA Nations League finals

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Harry Kane is fit to play for Tottenham and thus, Gareth Southgate expects him ready to feature for England.

Kane, Raheem Sterling and Jadon Sancho headlined a 23-man England National Team squad for the UEFA Nations League Finals. England will face the Netherlands on June 6, with a second game in either the final or third-place game against Switzerland or Portugal. All the matches will take place in Portugal.

“We have got exciting players and picking a squad is really difficult because we have lots of depth of talent, not only the squad we have picked but the U21s as well,” Southgate said in a statement on the FA’s website. “There’s been some difficult decisions to make and we are obviously a little bit complicated with so many players involved in the Champions League as well but we are really excited by the squad and the players that are around it.”

While Kane, Danny Rose, and Eric Dier all made the squad, Southgate cut Harry Winks and Kieran Trippier from the original 27-man squad he named earlier in May. Southampton midfielders James Ward-Prowse and Nathan Redmond were also cut from the squad, but Southgate will keep them training with the group until the players involved in the Europa League and Champions League finals arrive.

With this squad, Southgate has on-paper a pretty decent team to contest the title.

Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland, Tom Heaton

Defenders: Danny Rose, Danny Rose, Eric Dier, John Stones, Harry Maguire, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Ben Chilwell, Michael Keane

Midfielders: Jesse Lingard, Jordan Henderson, Declan Rice, Fabian Delph, Ross Barkley, Dele Alli,

Forwards: Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford, Callum Wilson

Southgate the latest from World Cup run to receive royal honors

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LONDON (AP) An unlikely fashion icon during the World Cup, England manager Gareth Southgate was looking sharp again in his trademark vest on Thursday.

Not on the sideline of a soccer field but at Buckingham Palace.

Southgate was there to collect his OBE — Officer of the Order of the British Empire — from the Prince of Wales, three months after being awarded the honor in Queen Elizabeth II’s New Year list.

The 48-year-old Southgate led England to the semifinals of the World Cup in Russia last year. For games, he donned a vest, or waistcoat, under his suit jacket and sales of the garment soared back home in England during the tournament.

After receiving his honor, Southgate said it was a “very proud moment” and that he was “very grateful to all of the players and all the support team that work with me, because I’m here representing them, really.”

England striker Harry Kane received an MBE — Member of the Order of the British Empire — at the palace last week.

Danny Rose breaks silence about facing racist abuse in Montenegro

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Danny Rose has spoken emphatically and candidly about his personal feelings and career plans in breaking his 10-day silence about the racist abuse he and England’s other black players faced during the Three Lions’ game in Montenegro last month.

[ MORE: Bonucci criticized for saying Kean “50-50” to blame for racist abuse ]

While the likes of manager Gareth Southgate and players Raheem Sterling and Callum Hudson-Odoi chose to speak about the incident in the minutes immediately following the final whistle, Rose says he wanted to keep his thoughts to himself and speak with a number of important figures in his life before going public with his thoughts.

While his manager and some of his teammates weren’t aware of the racist chanting which had been taking place until the game’s second half, Rose was acutely aware of what was happening, though he says he didn’t bring it up to Southgate at halftime — quotes from the Telegraph:

“I spoke to Gareth after the game and he hadn’t been aware (of the racism). I didn’t mention it at halftime, so he wasn’t aware of what was happening until he heard it right at the end.

“The manager was a bit upset to be fair, because he told us it was the first time he’d been involved with something like that and he said he didn’t know what the right course of action was. He said he was fully behind me if we wanted to walk off. I just wanted to get the three points and get out of there as quickly as possible.”

Southgate offered nothing but full backing to his players after the game, striking the perfect balance of anger over the events and the feeling of failure given the level of responsibility he feels as someone in a position of prominence and power.

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It’s not the first time Rose has dealt with racism while playing for England. As a member of the U-21 team for a trip to Serbia in 2012, a similar incident occurred which had Rose prepared for — and expecting — more of the same this time around. Serbia was fine all of $85,000 by UEFA and forced to play one game behind closed doors.

“I sort of prepared myself for what happened. We won and now we just wait for whatever punishment if any punishment happens.

“I wasn’t upset. I just didn’t want the focus to be on me and about a small — I have to say it was only a small — minority of the fans doing the chanting. I didn’t want the post-match to be about me. I just wanted everybody to focus on a great week we’d had with England. We scored 10 goals and it was a great performance over two games. I just didn’t want to speak and put any focus on me, that’s all.

“I played in Serbia about eight years ago and it happened there. So I sort of thought it would be a possibility that it might happen again (in Montenegro) and it did. So yes, it happened. I looked up straight away in the first half and I know the exact time it happened in the first half.

“But it didn’t affect my game. I’m a big boy now and I know that three points are obviously not the most important thing when you’re going through something like that, but I just wanted the team to get three points so that we could move on and get out of Montenegro as quickly as possible.”

[ MORE: Sterling pays for 550 students from his old school to attend FA Cup semi ]

As for what must be done to rid the game of racism, Rose believes the game’s various governing bodies must begin to take the issue seriously, beginning with punishments befitting the crime.

“When countries only get fined what I’d probably spend on a night out in London, what do you expect? When the punishment is not as harsh, what do you expect?

“You see my Tottenham manager (Mauricio Pochettino) get banned for two games for just being confrontational against [referee] Mike Dean at Burnley. But yet a country can only get fined a little bit of money for being racist. It’s just a bit of a farce at the minute. So that’s where we are at in football and until there’s a harsh punishment there’s not must else we can expect.”

While Rose is clearly a deeply insightful individual and someone willing to meet any potential criticism head-on for speaking out about important societal issues, he was very transparent about the fact that the custodians of the game have not only failed himself and many others around the world, but also that it has him just about counting down the days until he’s ready to retire.

“I’ve had enough. At the minute, how I program myself, I just think, ‘I’ve got five or six more years left in football and I just can’t wait to see the back of it.’ Seeing how things are done in the game at the minute. I just want to get out of it.

“That’s how I feel. I feel I’ve got five or six more years left and I just want to enjoy football as much as I can. There is so much politics and whatever in football, and I just can’t wait to see the back of it, to be honest.”

Southgate, Sterling respond to racial abuse in Montenegro

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England manager Gareth Southgate was left fuming when he heard Montenegro fans chanting monkey noises in the direction of Danny Rose.

“I know what I heard,” he said following England’s 5-1 comeback win in Podgorica.

[ MORE: EURO qualifying wrap ]

“I definitely heard abuse of Danny Rose when he got booked at the end of the game. There’s no doubt in my mind that happened and we’ll report it to Uefa. It’s not acceptable. We have to support our players.”

Racism has continued to rear its ugly head just about everywhere this season, including at a Premier League ground when supporters from Chelsea were suspended for targeting Raheem Sterling.

Southgate said he had not spoken with Sterling or Callum Hudson-Odoi to see if either was targeted Monday in Montenegro, but Sterling grabbed his ears to the visiting fans after scoring late in a “monkey” gesture he’d later explain on Twitter.