Today marks the five-year anniversary of Gareth Southgate’s permanent appointment as England manager — and what a journey it has been.
The 51-year-old has exceeded expectations during his tenure, leading the Three Lions into a World Cup semi-final and a European Championship final.
To celebrate, we pick out five of Southgate’s most memorable matches at the helm.
1. Colombia 1-1 England (England win 4-3 on penalties) — July 3, 2018
Expectations had been tempered by Southgate heading into the 2018 World Cup but excitement back home truly reached fever pitch after this iconic last 16 victory over Colombia.
Having endured several high-profile penalty shootout losses in years gone by, Three Lions fans were left fearing the worst when the two sides remained deadlocked after 120 tense minutes in Moscow.
Southgate’s men had not read the script though, with Jordan Pickford memorably clubbing Carlos Bacca’s spot-kick away before Eric Dier calmy slotted home to spark pandemonium among the England faithful.
The waistcoated boss' uncharacteristic outburst of raw emotion after Dier’s penalty marked an exorcising of demons from his own Euro 96 penalty heartache, endearing him to the nation more than ever in the process.
2. Spain 2-3 England — October 15, 2018
As far as performances go, this victory in Seville still ranks among Southgate’s most impressive on a night where his England side made the footballing world sit up and take notice.
With suggestions of a kind draw having played a part in their run to the World Cup semi-finals months earlier, the Three Lions boss needed his troops to deliver against an elite opponent — and deliver they did.
A Raheem Sterling brace either side of Marcus Rashford’s composed finish had the visitors 3-0 up within 38 minutes and while Spain responded in the second half, they saw out what was a hugely impressive victory.
The win was England’s first in Spain since 1987 and ended La Roja’s 15-year streak without defeat in a competitive home fixture.
3. England 2-1 Croatia — November 18, 2018
Just a month after their Spanish success, Southgate’s Three Lions roared their way into the inaugural Nations League finals with a fabulous comeback victory over Croatia.
Needing to score twice and win to top their group ahead of their opponents and Spain, England fell behind early in the second half to a deflected Andrej Kramaric strike and looked destined for a cruel defeat.
However, late goals from Jesse Lingard and Harry Kane flipped the contest on its head in front of a raucous Wembley and added another string to the bow of Southgate’s ever-improving side.
The result also acted as a small serving of revenge against their World Cup semi-final conquerors and once again showcased England's ability to mix it with the best.
4. England 2-0 Germany — June 29, 2021
Beating Germany in a tournament knockout game at Wembley really is one of the sweetest things imaginable for an England boss — and that is exactly what Southgate delivered this summer.
Having negotiated their way through a tricky group in efficient fashion, the Three Lions played out a tense affair against their bitter rivals before late strikes from familiar heroes Sterling and Kane secured a famous victory.
Despite a reduced attendance of just over 40,000 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Wembley has rarely seen such jubilant scenes as on that June day as football fever firmly gripped the nation.
It was England’s first victory over Germany in a knockout tie since the 1966 World Cup final and a result that will forever ensure Southgate's legendary status among the nation’s faithful.
5. England 1-1 Italy (Italy win 3-2 on penalties) — July 11, 2021
Southgate’s troops could not quite bring football home at Euro 2020 — but they could hardly have gone any closer.
England’s magical Euro 2020 journey was denied a fairytale ending by Roberto Mancini’s dogged Italians, who held their nerve to lift the trophy thanks to a dramatic penalty shootout success at Wembley.
Though the result did not go his way, Southgate joined Sir Alf Ramsey as one of only two men to manage the Three Lions in a major final and once again broke new ground for English football in the modern era.
Having gone one step better than the previous tournament, Southgate will hope to repeat that progress at Qatar 2022 and see England end a 56-year wait for international glory.