England boss Gareth Southgate has vowed to continue the fight against racism – 12 months on from seeing his team become the victims of sickening abuse in Bulgaria.
Southgate has spoken out on the first anniversary of that infamous night in Sofia when his Three Lions stars were subjected to monkey chants and Nazi salutes inside the Vasil Levski Stadium.
England won the Euro 2020 qualifier 6-0 – but the game was remembered for all the wrong reasons.
The game had to be stopped twice before half time under UEFA protocols after England stars reported the abuse to match officials – and came close to being abandoned.
England decided to continue the game following talks at half time and earned widespread praise from around the world for their strong stance against the racist bullies.
Southgate believes England made a strong statement that night – and insists him and his players will continue to stand up to racists.
He said: "It's not a night you ever want to be involved with and it's not a type of night I ever want to experience again. My thoughts throughout were how do we look after our players, how do we protect our players, both going into the game and during the night.
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"To experience the pressure of it as a head coach because of the spotlight we knew existed and the fact the decisions we were going to take were going to resonate around Europe, if not the world, was a unique experience to be in.
"We tried to do the best job we could, everyone will have a view on what that should or should not have been.
“We highlighted an issue that is unacceptable and we were the first team at international level to bring a game to a halt for those reasons.
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"It's not something that I'm particularly proud of. It's not an evening where pride is the right word for how we dealt with it.
"I felt we sent a strong message and we sent a positive message. I think as a squad and a group of staff as well, we continue to do that.
“We care for each other, we're united and we don't see discrimination of any sort as acceptable. We'll continue to try to have a voice because we hope to make a difference."
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