Southgate reveals Pearce backing ahead of England Under-21 bow

The new young Lions manager has sought advice from his predecessor before taking charge of the team for the first time, and ended his commitments as a pundit for ITV
Gareth Southgate has revealed predecessor Stuart Pearce has given him his backing ahead of his bow as England Under-21 head coach.

Pearce was relieved of his duties following a disastrous Euro 2013 campaign which saw the Young Lions lose all three of their group games.

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Southgate and Pearce have remained friends since their days as England team-mates during the 1990s, and the new Under-21 boss felt he needed the latter's blessing before taking charge.

"I have spoken to him three or four times over the last month and he has been brilliant," Southgate told the Daily Mail.

"He always said it was a job he loved. I didn’t play with anybody more passionate and prepared to give everything for his country than Stuart.

"I know he was proud to do this role, so it is awkward for me to follow him. But after discussions with him, he felt I should apply. That made it acceptable for me.

"I would have been a little bit uncomfortable applying for it had we not had that conversation because we know each other so well."

Southgate also confirmed that he has given up his role as a pundit for ITV.

He explained: "I didn’t want people thinking if it wasn’t going well I had the life raft. I wanted to show I am fully committed to the job."