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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
John Cross

Gareth Southgate admits he may not watch World Cup semi-finals after England's agony

Gareth Southgate admitted he might find it too painful to watch the rest of the World Cup.

The England boss flew home from Qatar with the backroom staff and players on Sunday in the wake of their devastating quarter-final defeat by France. They know they missed a glorious chance to reach the World Cup final as Morocco have caused a major upset to reach the last four.

Southgate will spend Christmas at home but admits he may find it hard to switch on the television and watch the rest of the tournament. When asked if he will watch the semi final and final, Southgate said: “I don’t think so. I don't really know. I am interested to see how it goes but I don’t know.”

England players were given permission to travel home separately and, while some caught the FA plane back to the Midlands, others flew to different destinations for a short break before rejoining their clubs for the rest of the Premier League season. Several clubs - including Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea - have training camps in the Middle East to allow players to join up when England went out.

But as they got into the last week of the tournament, most players will get a few days of rest before being expected to get ready for the Premier League to restart on Boxing Day. Meanwhile, FA chief Mark Bullingham has praised Southgate and insisted England’s players should be “proud” of their World Cup campaign.

Bullingham also highlighted Harry Kane for his leadership after his heartbreaking penalty miss against France. Chief executive Bullingham said: “Like all England fans, we feel the pain of losing a quarter-final, along with the coaches, players and support team who are hurting this morning.

Gareth Southgate suspects that his heartache will be too much to watch the World Cup semi-finals (Getty Images)

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“Gareth and Steve (Holland) prepared the team exceptionally well throughout the tournament. The players were committed to winning the trophy and were very well led by Harry Kane. But sport can have fine margins and on the day, against the current world champions, it was not to be.

“This is a very exciting young English squad and, despite the intense disappointment of last night, they should be very proud of their performances in Qatar. We are incredibly proud of Gareth, the players, the coaches and the support team and appreciate all the hard work they put in.”

Southgate's managerial counterpart on Saturday, Didier Deschamps, looks set to stay on as France boss until 2024. Deschamps’ future has been uncertain beyond the World Cup but reports in France suggest he has decided to stay on no matter what the outcome in Qatar. That will keep Zinedine Zidane waiting as the ex- Real Madrid boss has been lined up as the next France manager.

Didier Deschamps is bidding to lead France to back-to-back World Cups (Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

But Deschamps said cryptically after France’s win over England: “It's great to achieve the objectives set by the president. He is happy and many people I imagine are happy in France, but I like to enjoy what we have achieved again, that is to say, to be again among the four best teams in the world. Now, I'm thinking about Wednesday's game [against Morocco], nothing else.”

Meanwhile, France midfielder Adrien Rabiot insisted they had been given “justice” after Harry Kane missed his spot kick as they felt it was not a penalty after Theo Hernandez’s push on Mason Mount. Rabiot also praised France’s “capacity for resilience” and said: “We’ve seen hundreds of these decisions not given. But we’re happy in the end, it was justice.”

He added on Wednesday’s semi final with Morocco: “The match will be watched a lot in France, because there’s a big Moroccan community. We’re impatient for this match but we’ll have to recover first because we’re tired.”

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