England have come a long way under Gareth Southgate’s stewardship.
The appointment of Southgate in light of Sam Allardyce’s acrimonious departure didn’t exactly fill the nation with boundless optimism for the future, but he has since established himself as one of the most successful managers in England history.
His meticulous approach to international management and tactical pragmatism have transformed England into a side with genuine aspirations of winning a major tournament.
Southgate’s men will go head-to-head with Italy on Sunday in the Euro 2020 final in what will be just England’s second tournament final in their history.
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The squad has developed dramatically since he took charge of his first game almost five years ago against Malta on 8 October 2016 at Wembley Stadium.
Just two of the players, namely John Stones and Kyle Walker, that started that game can be considered current regulars five years on, but who else made the starting XI when Southgate made his England bow and where are they now?
Let’s take a look…
GK: Joe Hart
Joe Hart has 75 England caps and was once a shoe-in for the number one shirt, but he’s suffered a dramatic fall from grace since Pep Guardiola ousted him after taking the reins at Manchester City.
The 34-year-old is now a backup option for Tottenham Hotspur.
RB: Kyle Walker
Despite an influx of talented English right-backs in recent years, Walker remains the first-choice option for Southgate and is a regular for Manchester City.
CB: John Stones
Stones was hardly in the conversation for Euro 2020 selection at the beginning of the season but his revival at City alongside Ruben Dias was so impressive that he managed to win his place back in time for the competition.
CB: Gary Cahill
Now 35 years old, Gary Cahill has just been released by Crystal Palace after two seasons with the south London outfit.
LB: Ryan Bertrand
Ryan Bertrand is well out of the England picture now and looks set to join Leicester City this summer after his contract with Southampton came to an end following six years of service.
CM: Jordan Henderson
One of England’s most senior players has only played a bit-part role at Euro 2020 having spent the end of the Premier League season sidelined through injury.
In ordinary circumstances he’d have been starting in central midfield, but Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips have done a stellar job in his absence.
CM: Dele Alli
Dele Alli is a shadow of the player that had fans all over the world talking when he burst onto the scene as a prodigious youngster.
The 25-year-old was a backup player under Jose Mourinho prior to his dismissal at Spurs and he will be hoping to re-establish himself for both club and country under Nuno Espirito Santo.
CM: Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney has followed the likes of Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard into management and is currently in charge of Championship outfit Derby County.
RW: Theo Walcott
Theo Walcott has just completed a free transfer from Everton back to his boyhood club Southampton following a successful season-long loan spell.
LW: Jesse Lingard
Jesse Lingard made a late case for Euro 2020 selection with a brilliant short-term loan stint with West Ham United and a handful of clubs will surely be interested in signing him on a permanent basis this summer.
CF: Daniel Sturridge
Daniel Sturridge is also a free agent having been released by Turkish outfit Trabzonspor in March earlier this year.
Here’s the line-up in full: