Gareth Southgate says the connection his side continue to build with England fans is among the best of his achievements as the third anniversary of his first game in charge of the England senior team rolls around.
The Three Lions boss took charge of the squad for their World Cup qualifier with Malta on 8 October 2016, following the sudden departure of former boss Sam Allardyce.
Southgate had been in charge of the U21s the previous month, with his final game seeing a 6-1 win over Norway in Colchester, thanks to a hat-trick from Marcus Rashford.
And while the Three Lions have since flourished under Southgate’s charge, he believes it’s the growing rapport with supporters at home and away which he takes just as much pride in.
“The fact the team have connected back with our fans is the most pleasing aspect of the last few years,” he said, as his squad prepare at St. George’s Park to play Czech Republic and Bulgaria this month.
“It was important to me that we played with a style that our supporters enjoy watching.
“We knew there were some good young players coming through, which we’ve blooded and we’ve been ranked fourth or fifth in the world for the last 12 months because of consistently good performances.
“We’ve gone about that in a slightly different way to the teams that are ranked about us in that we’ve got a much bigger emphasis on youth so there’s still a lot for us to do.”
The first qualification campaign saw Southgate and his team secure qualification for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, where they went on to reach the semi-final
And with all eyes focused on reaching next summer’s UEFA EURO 2021, Southgate is working hard to make sure the progression continues.
“The challenges never stop,” he added.
“Every month we go back through the games we’ve played and review what could be better and the areas we can improve on to be considered the best team in the world.
“There’s a lot of work to do in that regard, but we feel we’re still improving all the time. I don’t think there’s been any regression and we’ve got to make sure we continue that.”TICKETS: ENGLAND V MONTENEGRO