Gareth Southgate was able to indulge his inner football fan on Thursday, as he saw a special exhibition at the National Football Museum.
As the England manager prepares to pick his squad for November’s key Euro Qualifiers, there’s also a special significance for the first match against Montenegro.
Not only is the clash at Wembley on Thursday 14 November a chance for Southgate’s men to secure their place at next summer’s UEFA EURO 2020 Finals, but it’s also England’s 1000th senior men’s international match.
And with a new exhibition now on show at the Museum in Manchester, looking back at some of the key milestones in England’s history, it certainly evoked some of Southgate’s raw passion for his country.
“I've loved it,” he admitted.
“I think growing up as a kid, what happens today is that everyone sees European football and world football and they're in touch with the modern game.
“But when I was growing up you didn't have the coverage of every other league, so you watched historic football and you read about the history of football.
“All of these stories, not only the games I was involved in or remember watching, but games I read about and had programmes from and things like that - the anorak part of me has really enjoyed it.
“Also, you realise the history of England and you know what a privilege it is to have played for England but also to be one of the few people to have managed your country.TICKETS: ENGLAND V MONTENEGRO
“It really makes me even prouder of being involved.”
If that wasn’t enough, it was also revealed that each player involved in the 1000th game will bear their own England legacy number beneath the crest on their shirt, denoting their individual position in the list of 1244 players to have worn the Three Lions so far.
Southgate was presented with his own legacy number of 1071, and he admits it’s something he’s pleased to see going forward.
“I think sometimes as a player, we didn't have that when I was playing and I used to look at the cricket team with the number on the shirt, it just makes you very proud to see how few people have achieved that,” he said.
“We always talk to the players about the badge on the front of the shirt and how we are a small part of that history, and there are so many players that have gone before and players that will come after.
“It's important we respect the shirt and leave it in a better place than when we found it.
“So to be involved in this game is a particularly poignant moment, especially given that some of our former players will be at the match as well.”
Southgate is set to name his squad for the games, which also sees England face Kosovo in Pristina on Sunday 17 November, next Thursday.
And while the historical significance of game #1000 isn’t lost on anyone, the main objective is to complete the job on the pitch to make it an even more memorable evening with the chance of playing games on home turf at Wembley next summer.
“We've got to get the balance right, of the team of enjoying this occasion and the build-up to a special game, but equally our job on the night is to qualify for a European championship,” he added.
“That can lead to some more brilliant nights that we've had the chance to remind ourselves of today.
“To make Wembley, over the next 12 months, a place where there is a totally united team and fans is going to be such an asset for us moving forward.TICKETS: ENGLAND V MONTENEGRO