Gareth Southgate: "I get called Gary, and Darren - I’ve even been called Neville Southall"

The current England manager answers FourFourTwo's daft questions in January 2015 on patting cats, Salt 'N' Shake and his best woodwork creations

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Hi Gareth. Wikipedia claims you once contributed a poem to children’s book series Roary & Friends. Can this be true?
Hi. I’m afraid it’s not. It was ridiculous, actually, because the company threatened to sue me about the “claim”. The guy who wrote the book said: “You never contributed anything.” But I’d never claimed to. Very odd.

Your apparent poem read: “Always keep away from crime/ It only leads to badness. Crime destroys society/ spreading pain and sadness.”
I wish I could lay claim to having written such an honourable thing. There’s some strange stuff on the internet, isn’t there? I like reading articles on coaching, but if you start looking into things about yourself, you get depressed.

This is the oddest few minutes I’ve had on the phone this week

Roary is rubbish anyway. Stupid talking car.
I was always a Charlie Brown fan.

Much better. It’s interesting that Gareths are always either Gareth or Gary, never both. Gareth Lineker or Gary Barry don’t work. Why?
People don’t like to add syllables, so you won’t see anyone taking the Gary-to-Gareth route. Most Gareths stick with Gareth. But Barry probably gets Gary Barry somewhere. I get called Gary, and Darren, by people who are muddled up. I’ve even been called Neville Southall. I’m not sure how they get me confused with a Welsh goalkeeper.

Sir Gareth was part of Arthurian legend. Are you a fan? 
At school we did more Second World War stuff. I prefer the Roman era. If I could go back in time, I think I’d have a look back at when they were running riot.

Gareth Southgate addresses the England team

"Right lads, first port of call: the name is Gareth - not Gary, Darren or Neville"

Do you think it’s alright to pat cats? Some suggest a small terrier is the limit in terms of patting.
I agree. You have to stroke a cat. We’ve got two dogs and a cat, and it’s alright to stroke a dog, but patting a cat is not acceptable. [Distant muttering] I’m getting some funny looks here.

People probably don’t expect to overhear Gareth Southgate talking about patting cats. 
That’s true. They’ll be telling everyone what a weird fella I am. This is the oddest few minutes I’ve had on the phone this week.

Sorry. Do you agree that crisp flavours have gone mental? 
Absolutely. My son has brought home “ranch racoon” and “cheesy beans” crisps recently. It’s ludicrous. It’s a long time since you used to have a plain bag with a little bag of salt. We thought that was highbrow crisp eating.

Ah, Salt ’n’ Shake. Did you always add all the salt?
There was no point not sticking the lot in, was there?

Who keeps pencils in a box? Every kid already has a pencil case.

No. Did you start randomly supporting an American football team in the 1980s?
I went for the LA Raiders. They won a Superbowl around that time and had a great running back called Marcus Allen. I also liked the black and silver kit. 

If you moved to L.A and were forced to join either the Crips or the Bloods, who would you plump for? 
I’d be totally lost in a crime gang situation. I wouldn’t know which side to be on. I’d try to avoid it.

Fair enough. If the Crystal Palace eagle fought the ‘Boro lion to the death, who would win?
The smart money is on the eagle. It has the obvious advantage of being able to swoop in. It’d go straight for the eye gouge. A lion probably isn’t quick enough to take an eagle out the air, and it would also have the element of surprise.

Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough logos

Eagle > lion

Finally, what’s the best thing you made in woodwork at school?
I was terrible. I made a pencil box that was unfit for purpose. It had no hinge. 

What is the point in a pencil box anyway? 
It’s true. Who keeps pencils in a box? Every kid already has a pencil case. But if all carpenters set out with that attitude, we’d have no chairs. For me, though, it was a waste of time. 

Much like the last 10 minutes. Thanks for chatting!
No problem!

Gareth Southgate is National Ambassador for the StreetGames Football Pools Fives, a programme taking football to disadvantaged communities across the UK –

This interview was originally published in the January 2015 issue of FourFourTwo. Subscribe!