Classmate recalls Gareth Southgate as a kind boy who always wore a tie


Even at the age of 11, Gareth Southgate was showing signs of the sartorial flair that would become his signature style on the touchline.

In a grey V-neck and maroon tie, the future England manager smiled proudly for his 1981 class photo at Pound Hill Middle School in Crawley, West Sussex.

His classmates remember him as Form 3B’s best-dressed pupil. Our touching photograph shows him wearing a tie, even though it was not a school rule.

Speaking to The Mail on Sunday, Georgina MacKenzie, who was in his class from 1977 to 1982, remembers Southgate for a single-minded interest in sport that excluded any dalliances with admirers.

In a grey V-neck and maroon tie, the future England manager (circled) smiled proudly for his 1981 class photo at Pound Hill Middle School in Crawley, West Sussex

‘He did have the odd girl who would fancy him but he was too into his sport to care,’ she said.

‘He would be playing football in the playground constantly during breaks. He was a fanatic. He wasn’t into girls.

‘He had a small group of friends, a gang of boys who he stuck around with. He was very kind and nice to everyone in the class, even though he was very determined, even back then.’

Ms MacKenzie, 50, remembers Southgate for his encouragement when she came last in the running heats on the school’s sports day, cheering her on until she reached the finish line.

‘Gareth was a lovely lad, he was always encouraging,’ said the mother-of-three.

‘I would always come last in races and he would be at the other end saying, ‘Come on, come on.’ ‘

Southgate's (pictured in 1994) classmates remember him as Form 3B's best-dressed pupil who would wear a tie, even though it was not a school rule

Southgate’s (pictured in 1994) classmates remember him as Form 3B’s best-dressed pupil who would wear a tie, even though it was not a school rule

Southgate's footballing journey (pictured after England's Euro 2020 semi-final victory) began at Selsdon Junior FC, based near Croydon in South-East London

Southgate’s footballing journey (pictured after England’s Euro 2020 semi-final victory) began at Selsdon Junior FC, based near Croydon in South-East London

Southgate, 50, is noted in the football world for his intelligence, but even as a boy his cerebral approach was noted by classmates and teachers, according to Ms MacKenzie.

‘He was a really bright lad,’ she said. ‘He would always be getting 100 out of 100 in all of his subjects. He worked so hard even back then, he was very determined.

‘He loved English, science, maths and of course PE. He had very high standards even then.

‘If he was in a race and he didn’t get the time he wanted, he would get very frustrated with himself.’

Ms MacKenzie, who still lives in Crawley and whose mother was a dinner lady at the school, beams with pride as she remembers the future star. 

‘I’m so proud of Gareth. I cried when he missed the penalty in 1996 so I really hope England win so he can finally get over that.’

Southgate’s footballing journey began at Selsdon Junior FC, based near Croydon in South-East London. 

Georgina MacKenzie, who was in his class from 1977 to 1982, remembers Southgate (top left) for a single-minded interest in sport that excluded any dalliances with admirers

Georgina MacKenzie, who was in his class from 1977 to 1982, remembers Southgate (top left) for a single-minded interest in sport that excluded any dalliances with admirers

Current Selsdon Junior chairman Joe Picciano, an Italian, described Southgate as ‘one of the most illustrious players at the club in terms of what he’s achieved’.

Southgate’s forebears in the Home Counties worked as farm labourers, meat salesmen, cab drivers or maids. His great-great-grandparents, John and Elizabeth Southgate, were farmers in the village of Kirby-le-Soken in Essex.

The next two generations were Essex-born but moved to London. Gareth’s great-grandfather, Frederick, ran a pub in East London.

His great-great-grandparents on his mother’s side lived in Finchley, only a 30-minute drive from where Gareth’s father, Clive, would be raised in Watford 100 years later.

Gareth’s mother Barbara was from Islington, North London. Her parents and grandparents were both in the meat industry, working as wholesalers and butchers. 

The England manager once faced jibes for being too middle-class to thrive in football. 

‘The middle-class thing is a bit of a myth,’ said Clive Southgate. ‘My wife and I are both very working-class.’

Southgate (left in 1996), now 50, is noted in the football world for his intelligence, but even as a boy his cerebral approach was noted by classmates and teachers, according to Ms MacKenzie

Southgate (left in 1996), now 50, is noted in the football world for his intelligence, but even as a boy his cerebral approach was noted by classmates and teachers, according to Ms MacKenzie

The England manager (pictured celebrating after England's victory secured them a place in the Euro 2020 final) once faced jibes for being too middle-class to thrive in football

The England manager (pictured celebrating after England’s victory secured them a place in the Euro 2020 final) once faced jibes for being too middle-class to thrive in football

Perhaps that explains why Southgate once agreed to introduce the Sex Pistols at a concert in 1996. 

His team-mate Stuart Pearce recalled last year: ‘We went backstage and chatted with John Lydon and the Pistols and they said, ‘Would you mind introducing us?’

‘So we introduced the band on stage. Gareth had a Pistols T-shirt on as well – I think it was the first gig he’d ever been to.’

Lydon – previously Johnny Rotten – said he is confident Southgate can inspire his team to triumph tonight. 

‘Southgate is right up there,’ the 65-year-old told the MoS. 

‘The team is honestly like a tonic. Win, lose or draw I think we’ve done great to get where we have.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk