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Alexander-Arnold hails 'incredible' England boss Southgate

12:10 GMT+3 22/03/2019
Gareth Southgate
The full-back says the national boss has had a massive impact on his development over a period of many years

Trent Alexander-Arnold has hailed the impact of England head coach Gareth Southgate in his progression from aspiring youngster to World Cup star.

The 20-year-old Liverpool full-back sadly had to pull out of Southgate’s squad for the Euro 2020 qualifying fixtures against the Czech Republic and Montenegro with a back injury, but his rise at club level has been mirrored over the last nine months at international level too.

And having first come across Southgate when he was still learning his trade and the former England defender was heading up the Under-21s, Alexander-Arnold has told Goal that the manager’s input over the years has been a vital element in his growth.

“I think I first met him when I was about 15 or 16 in the England setup and he would always go out of his way to say hello to you and make sure he knew the young players who were coming through,” explains the right-back.

“It’s always nice to feel like you’re known with senior managers, and at the time he was the U21s manager so it was nice to feel as if he knew who you were and how you were playing at your club.

“That gave you a bit more motivation to be one of his players and nowadays he’s the senior manager and it’s something that young players can hope for a bit more as well.”

The young defender, who made his England debut against Costa Rica shortly before last summer’s World Cup and went on to appear against Belgium in the finals tournament in Russia, says Southgate is able to provide a unique perspective for his players.

“He’s incredible, someone who’s really honest and he understands what it’s like to be on the playing side of it. He understands the pressure that comes with it, especially with the national team.

“He helped take that off us, in the summer especially, and I think that’s one of the reasons why we did so well because he managed it perfectly and we were able to escape the pressures. It’s something that really helped us.”

Having reached the semi-finals in Russia last summer and qualified for the last four of the Nations League in June, Alexander-Arnold believes there is an exciting future ahead for the Three Lions.

“The World Cup was really good, really positive, and at the same time we still know that there’s room for improvement,” he adds.

“And that’s the exciting thing about the future of the country, that there are so many young players coming through and they’re getting their chance to show that on big stages.

“The manager’s giving young players chances and I think if everything goes to plan it will be a really good few years coming up.”

England host the Czech Republic at Wembley on Friday before heading to Podgorica on Monday to face Ljubisa Tumbakovic. The two fixtures mark the start of the Three Lions’ Group A campaign ahead of the 2020 tournament, the semi-finals and final of which will be held at Wembley.