Southgate’s history lesson shines light on fierce England-Scotland rivalry | David Hytner

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England manager knows he owes much to a fixture which has helped to shape his career – and can get his side back on track

Gareth Southgate has mentioned his dirty secret previously – how he was a Scotland fan before he was an England fan. And yet when he did so here, in the Hampden Park auditorium, in the buildup to Tuesday night’s showpiece between Scotland and his England team, a celebration of the oldest rivalry in international football, it seemed to carry extra resonance.

It was out of necessity, of course. And ignorance, Southgate said with a smile. England had not qualified for the 1978 World Cup but Scotland had and the seven-year-old him simply wanted to support a British team. “I kind of followed it through the trauma of Peru and the Netherlands,” Southgate said, firing memories of Scotland’s defeat in the opening group game and the Archie Gemmill-inspired victory in the third that was not enough to see them advance. “They were a British team … I didn’t realise it all then. You just got your sticker album and did what you did. I soon saw the error of my ways.”

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Written by David Hytner in Glasgow
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