Gareth Southgate: It’s great England fans gave us such a warm welcome

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 (The FA via Getty Images)
(The FA via Getty Images)

Gareth Southgate says England’s players were “hugely appreciative” of their welcome back to Wembley for Sunday’s win over Andorra.

England returned to the national stadium for the first time since the European Championship Final and were given a rousing reception, none more so than Bukayo Saka, who scored the last goal in a comfortable 4-0 World Cup qualifying win.

Southgate was applauded by fans before and spent time signing autographs afterwards, in scenes markedly different from the chaos that marred the defeat by Italy 57 days ago.

“It was lovely when I went out to do an interview before the game, the reception was really nice and that means a lot,” said the England boss. “Not every England manager will have had that experience!

“We know we’ve got to keep winning matches and try to represent the country as we have done to keep that relationship going.

“We had that feeling when the players went out to warm up and the players and all the staff are hugely appreciative of it, given that relationship with the fans was quite fractured for a long time. It’s lovely that it feels more together.”

Saka was racially abused after missing the decisive penalty against Italy, but his name received the loudest cheer yesterday. The Arsenal star said: “It means everything knowing they support me. This is what I dream about, playing at Wembley in front of my family and this crowd and scoring on my 20th birthday.”

Jesse Lingard scored twice and Harry Kane reached 40 goals for England as the Three Lions made it five wins out of five in World Cup qualifying ahead of Wednesday’s match in Poland.

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