Southgate hails all the players who contributed to unforgettable 2021
Gareth Southgate has hailed all of the players who helped England during an unforgettable 2021 – not just those who booked a place at the FIFA 2022 World Cup with victory in San Marino.
The Three Lions went into tonight’s match at the San Marino Stadium still needing a point to guarantee their place at next year’s FIFA World Cup.
But it became clear very early into the contest that qualification would be cemented tonight and England were comfortable winners courtesy of a 10-0 victory.
It capped off a 2021 which saw Southgate’s men score more goals in a calendar year than any other England team and also take part in a first major tournament final since 1966 at UEFA Euro 2020.
Southgate said: "Qualification was earned in Budapest, in Warsaw, in Albania. I've got to credit all of our players on a really good year.
“We can't do anything about the opposition but the mentality of the way they played tonight was terrific.”
But once again it was Harry Kane who secured many of the headlines as he scored another four goals to move up to third in the list of England’s all-time record goalscorers.
Kane, who has now scored five hat-tricks for England men’s senior team, is now up to 48 goals, just five behind Wayne Rooney who holds the record.
And Southgate joked: "If we'd left Harry on the pitch for another 30 minutes, he might have got it. But we'd have had Wayne Rooney's family on the phone telling us to get him off!
“He's a phenomenal goalscorer, but he's not had the opportunity in games where there have been lots of goals available. He took that chance tonight.”
The England captain said: "It's fantastic. Every time I wear the England shirt, I'm proud and it's one of the greatest feelings I can have to score goals.
“It's nice to be amongst those people and hopefully there are more to come.”
Kane continued: "We still need to keep working. I feel like we've been improving year-on-year. It's about making the most of the time we have, we haven't got a lot of time before the next big tournament.
“We just need to use every training session to get better. Hopefully the mentality has been building over the years and we can take that onto the World Cup now."