Gibson's pride at playing under Southgate for Three Lions

Thursday 09 Oct 2014
England Under-21 defender Ben Gibson
Ben Gibson has spoken of his joy at playing under one of his childhood heroes for England Under-21s.

The Middlesbrough defender grew up watching Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate captain his hometown team at the Riverside Stadium during the club's halcyon era in the top flight.

And he’s now enjoying his role in Southgate’s squad as England prepare to face Croatia in the first leg of their crucial Euro play-off at Molineux on Friday.

England U21s v Croatia U21s

UEFA Euro Championship
Play-off first leg
5.45pm, Friday 10 October 2014
Molineux, Wolverhampton Wanderers
Live on BT Sport
Call 0871 222 1877 for tickets

"The best days at Middlesbrough were when he was captain," said Gibson, who first came through the ranks of Boro’s renowned academy when Southgate was in charge at the club.

"The European nights and cup finals, as he was the first captain to lift major silverware, were great times for the club.

"He actually spoke about something to the squad the other day which sent shivers down my spine and it brought back great memories.

"So it’s great to play for him, he’s a good manager and we thoroughly enjoy everything we do with him."

Gibson, who was part of the England U17s squad who won the Euro title in 2010, was first called up by Southgate in May after an impressive second half to the season for Boro.

He featured during the summer’s Toulon Tournament and has quickly become a firm favourite in the squad with his vocal and solid performances in the centre.

And Gibson says the squad morale can play an important part as England aim for a spot in next summer’s Finals in Czech Republic.

"It’s vitally important and we have great camaraderie, not just on the pitch but off it as well," he added.

"When you’re away with England, you spend a lot of time together so it’s good that it’s like that and we enjoy each other’s company and it’s something that helps us on the pitch.

"It’s desperately important for us to get a win to take over to Croatia with us, but it’s going to be a really tough game.

"They’re a very good side but we’re hoping to start off with a win and hopefully a couple of goals to take it to Croatia."

Tickets for the game are on sale now, priced at just £10 for adults and £5 for concessions. Call 0871 222 1877 or click here for more details.

By Nicholas Veevers Content Manager - FA Owned Channels at St. George's Park