Jump directly to the content

The key difference between England’s ‘Golden Generation’ and Gareth Southgate’s boys

Rooney, Lampard, Gerrard and co had the ability, but did they trust each other?

Why didn’t England’s ‘Golden Generation’ win anything?

It’s a question that’s been asked time and time again.

Between 2002 – 2006, the Three Lions boasted arguably the most formidable starting XI in world football.

But they never made it past the quarter final stage of a major tournament.

Ten world-class players… and David James

Bongarts - Getty
Ten world-class players… and David James

One possible reason is that the players failed to put aside club loyalties.

Rio Ferdinand, Gary Neville and Frank Lampard have all revealed that they were wary of being too friendly with players from other clubs while on international duty.

The fierce competitiveness between Man United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool leaked into the England squad and may have prevented the host of world-class talents from gelling.

In contrast, Gareth Southgate has created an atmosphere in which club rivals can enjoy each other’s company.

You’ve got to love him

Getty Images - Getty
You’ve got to love him

We saw evidence of this during the World Cup as England reached the semi-finals — a feat that evaded Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, David Beckham and co.

And from what we can tell, the mood in the camp is similarly positive now the squad have met up for the upcoming games against Spain and Switzerland.

Few would say the current squad have the ability of England’s ‘Golden Generation’ but their chemistry is strikingly better.

Sven-Goran Eriksson’s side were hampered by pressure and expectation.

Southgate’s boys appear relaxed without sacrificing self-belief.

It may seam insignificant, but Kyle Walker nutmegging people contributes to improved morale…

For so many years England were restricted because of an overriding sense of importance and seriousness.

Southgate has shown the benefits of making international football fun for the players, rather than a chore.

Check out Jesse Lingard and Trent Alexander-Arnold settling a disagreement with a crossbar challenge…

Playing for your country is a huge honour, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun.

Weridly, the whole vibe can best be summarised by the message Jordan Pickford has stitched on his boots.

Wise words

Wise words

The best part is, Southgate has only just begun…