Chris Powell believes there is no one better than Gareth Southgate to lead England and has backed the team to go “one step further” at Euro 2024.
England suffered a World Cup quarter-final exit to eventual runners-up France in December and Southgate debated his future after they returned from Qatar before he agreed to continue in the role he has served for more than six years.
Qualification for the next Euros begins in March with Group C fixtures against Italy and Ukraine and Powell, a member of Southgate’s coaching set-up for the last two major tournaments, is excited about what the group can achieve.
“Gareth for me is the right man,” Prostate Cancer UK ambassador Powell told the PA news agency.
“He has done so many good things with that squad and sometimes that gets overlooked. He has built a sense of unity, togetherness and a real culture that wasn’t there before.
“I am really happy he is continuing in the role. I think he has so many attributes that lend to being the England manager.
“I really hope the players and staff can go that one step further. I think we as a nation, but particularly with Gareth as manager, can hopefully achieve that in the next tournament.”
Powell’s jubilant goal celebrations were a feature of Euro 2020 and he was a crucial figure out in Qatar, with his Prostate Cancer UK ‘Man of Men’ badge proudly worn at each tournament.
The Tottenham head of coaching has been a long-term supporter of the charity that this week launched a new campaign titled Prostate FC, which will aim to raise awareness of a cancer that kills one man every 45 minutes.
While Powell knows first-hand the effect of the disease due to the death of his uncle, earlier this month he reunited with a football fan who credits the former Southend boss for saving his life.
Back in 2018 when Powell managed Southend and was preparing to run the London Marathon in aid of Prostate Cancer UK, Blues supporter Keith Smith looked on the club’s website in search of answers about a rumoured signing only to discover he had symptoms of prostate cancer.
Powell explained: “I think it is the best thing I have done in my life, or one of the best things I have done in my life, to save someone’s life by talking about prostate cancer.
“Keith read the stuff I had said online, got himself checked and subsequently found not just one but two types of cancer. He openly says if he did not look to see who I signed, he would not be here now.”
Southend fan Smith discovered he had both prostate cancer and a cancerous kidney tumour but got treatment and met Powell before a match at Roots Hall in 2019.
Fast forward four years and even though the duo have stayed in touch, they were able to enjoy an overdue catch-up at Tottenham’s Hotspur Way training ground on February 11 when Smith and his wife spent the day with Powell.
“He was on great form, looking really well and it is something very emotional. Sometimes I don’t realise how big that is, that actually I have managed to keep someone here with his loved ones and they got to it early, which is really important with prostate cancer,” Powell added.
“It was just nice to show him and his wife around, to give them a nice lunch and they watched our Under-21s win their game (against Brighton).
“We have got that bond now forever and apparently he has a picture of me on his desk but I can’t believe he looks at me every day!
“I wear the badge as often as I can and now we have Prostate FC, which links everyone because football is a real captive audience to get the message out there.”
On top of talking about the financial difficulties of Southend, England was also on the agenda.
Even though a decision is still to be made on whether or not Powell remains part of Southgate’s coaching staff, the 53-year-old is confident success is close for the most exciting group of English players for a generation.
“It was such a big honour to be involved in (the World Cup),” he said.
“We have a fantastic group that can only grow and develop through the experiences they’ve had with 2018, the Euros and now this World Cup. I am hopeful they can push on and be ready for Euro 2024 because that is the next target.”
:: Prostate FC is the biggest team in football taking on the most common cancer in men. Find out how you can help save men’s lives and join Chris and Keith at Prostate FC by visiting prostatecanceruk.org/prostatefc