Southgate’s message to England stars after staying in dressing room until 1am

Gareth Southgate had an unenviable job trying to lift the spirits of his England players after their heartbreaking Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy.

Having ridden the crest of a wave of national optimism, with 'Sweet Caroline' as their backing track, it again came down to a dreaded penalty shootout which ensured the Three Lions' 55 years of hurt were only set to continue.

Southgate was quick to console his three penalty takers who missed from the spot in the immediate aftermath: a dejected Marcus Rashford, as well as young duo Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho – both of whom had been reduced to tears.

But his biggest task would come once his troops were back in the solemn confines of their dressing room, where they stayed stuck inside until 1am due to ongoing fan trouble outside Wembley Stadium.

Conor Coady was one of the players involved in England's squad, though failed to register a single minute of action at the tournament.

That said, the Wolves skipper still played an important role behind the scenes, supporting his teammates despite conceding he knew he had little chance of getting on the field.

And Coady has offered an insight into the post-match scenes inside the England camp as he detailed how Prince William hugged each of Saka, Sancho and Rashford, before Southgate offered words of wisdom to his squad.

“We were in our own little bubble and I think that gave us a wider sense of how the country felt," Coady told The Athletic. "Nothing will take away the pain, but that [Prince William's presence] definitely helped.

"We had to stay there until 1am because of the trouble outside Wembley. The gaffer just said, ‘Believe. Keep on believing. Don’t stop. And when you leave this room, do not walk out with your heads down. Be proud of what you’ve done’.”

Southgate has slowly developed a reputation as a solid talker, and clearly has the backing of all his players.

Despite not featuring in the matches for his country, Coady insists Southgate always did his best to ensure he was involved, hailing him as a "fantastic person and world-class manager".

Coady also credited his manager for making players want to be selected for England again, creating a real team spirit within the camp.

He even revealed his boss asked him his thoughts on England switching to a three-man defence for the Round of 16 win over Germany, as Coady had played in that system a lot for his club side.

“He’s been the same since I first stepped foot in an England camp last August when we played Iceland and Denmark. He makes you feel comfortable.

"You could sit here and chat with him for hours about his experiences, the way he sees football and how he wants to play. You could talk to him about absolutely anything. The way he interacts with people is top drawer.”

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