Thursday, September 7, 2023

Gareth Southgate on Roy Keane, the waistcoat and why Gabby Agbonlahor edges Jamie O’Hara

England manager Gareth Southgate has just 10 months until fans will hopefully watch England head to Euro 2024.

But whilst the Three Lions boss was quizzed about the upcoming tournament and other England topics on air, Southgate also had a go at our quick fire questions giving his view on Roy Keane, the future of his waistcoat and more.

Southgate gave’s quick fire questions a go.

Southgate came into the studio to tell talkSPORT’s White and Jordan his view on Harry Kane to Bayern Munich, Jordan Henderson’s controversial move to Saudi Arabia and England’s ‘acceptable’ World Cup 2022 run, amongst other strong topics.

But away from the debates dominating football at the moment, can now give England fans an insight into what the ex-Middlesbrough, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa star’s opinions are beyond the realm of managing the national team.

Bryan Robson or Roy Keane?

Southgate looked up to former Manchester United midfielder Bryan Robson when he was growing up as a fan of the club.

It’s also definitely not a secret that Southgate clashed with another former captain in Roy Keane on the pitch, with the Irishman stamping on the then-Crystal Palace star, and then disagreeing when they did punditry together.

But history aside, who would he say is the better player if he had to pick?

“Oh wow, they’re both exceptional players and exceptional leaders. It’s hard for me to go against Bryan because he was a childhood hero,” he told

“But I think if you look at what Roy won while he was at the club and the longevity of the successful period he was the captain for, I’d probably put Roy slightly ahead.

“But Robbo was a wonderful player and Roy’s a big fan of Robbo and got huge respect for Robbo. But I think on what they’ve won, I’d have to put Roy just ahead.”

When asked if his experience playing against them on the pitch swayed his decision, he said: “I played against both of them but Robbo was with us at Euro 96 on the coaching staff, and I worked quite a bit with Roy on the television.

“I’ve got a huge admiration for both, they both have huge drive and a will to win. So yeah, not easy to call.”

Jamie O’Hara or Gabby Agbonlahor?

talkSPORT’s O’Hara and Agbonlahor are known for their bold claims on air.

But they did of course have careers in the Premier League, too, and Southgate had the pleasure of facing them both.

So – despite them being different players – who did he think was better?

“I’d have played against both of them,” he said.

“But Gabby had speed which wasn’t good for me, really.

“Of course, he’s an ex-Villa man so I’ve got a bit of an affinity with that. But yeah two different players really.”

Sorry, Jamie!

Waistcoat or no waistcoat?

Okay, so we did include one England based question.

But this one will be one on the minds of Three Lions fans everywhere… Will the iconic Southgate waistcoat reappear for Euro 2024 should England get there?

Prepare to be disappointed…

“Well it won’t be a waistcoat [that I’ll be wearing] I can assure you!” he said.

“That took on a life of its own, and I decided pretty quickly we wouldn’t be seeing one again.

“It’s nice that people were bothered frankly! But yeah, it’s not about me on the side, it’s about what the lads do on the field. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t just the guy in the waistcoat!”

We’ll miss you, Southgate’s waistcoat

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On the 20th anniversary of England’s Euro ’96 semi-final defeat to Germany, England manager Gareth Southgate reflected on the strengths of the 1996 squad. Of particular interest was his discussion of Roy Keane, the waistcoat he famously favoured and the debate between Jamie O’Hara and Gabby Agbonlahor.

Southgate was full of praise for Keane, having been around the 1996 squad himself while playing for Aston Villa. Describing his presence in training at the time as “endless enthusiasm and energy”, Southgate commended Keane’s ability to drive the team. Referencing the streak of defeats suffered by England in the semifinal, Southgate suggested it was Keane’s unswerving belief in himself and the team which helped to keep the team’s spirits up.

The waistcoat which Southgate famously wore during the recent 2018 World Cup was also discussed. While Southgate and Keane sported different waistcoats in the two respective tournaments, Southgate reflected on the modern symbolic nature of the traditional outfit, which has taken on new significance.

Furthermore, Southgate was asked to comment on the debate between Jamie O’Hara and Gabby Agbonlahor. Agbonlahor, who was 3 years younger than O’Hara, attracted debate over whether age undermines ability. Southgate explained that he did not believe that age hindered ability, given Agbonlahor’s impressive speed, strength and ability to “beat a defender in a tight situation”. While conceding it may have been difficult for O’Hara to accept, Southgate accepted that Agbonlahor’s attributes determined his selection in the favour.

Overall, Southgate’s reflections of the 1996 squad demonstrate the pride he obviously feels for the team and in particular for Keane’s impact. Southgate’s decision to wear the waistcoat in a more recent tournament, further help to bridge the gap between the two teams, confirming his pride and admiration for England’s past and current achievements on the international stage.

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