Gareth Southgate – Global inspiration for the recruitment industry

Twenty-two years ago, Gareth Southgate missed the penalty that resulted in England dropping out of the European Cup on home soil. Something that by his own admission was the worst day of his life, and has haunted him ever since. Yet all these years on, after guiding England into the quarter finals of the World Cup and breaking the forever hoodoo of never winning on penalties at World Cup finals, he is now the toast of Britain.

So much so that after hugging a Columbian player after his penalty miss instead of celebrating, he’s gone from being the butt of the joke with memes of failure, to a Twitter hashtag comparable only to that of Chuck Norris for his kindness! #GarethSouthgateWould is worth a look and had us cracking up in the office.

#GarethSouthgateWould ask Football first if it wanted to come home, and then phone its parents to ask if it’s OK.
#GarethSouthgateWould Pay an equal share of the restaurant bill, even though he didn’t have a starter and only drank the tap water.
#GarethSouthgateWould reschedule Saturday’s match for all those stressed “brides to be” out there who booked their weddings 18 months ago for 2pm on Saturday. 

Now, this all seems like a fairy-tale and in some ways, it is. But the truth is it was anything but that for much of the last twenty-two years. And the whole scenario in terms of the England team is testament to a daily struggle recruiters face, when companies refuse to look outside of the ‘norm’, outside of what is deemed to be ‘the only obvious choice’ to consider somebody who has talent and the right attitude and potential, but a different background, mentality, and personality. Somebody taking a step up to take on a big role where others have failed, as Gareth was all of these things.

The recruitment process of the FA reminds me very much of the marketing recruitment industry, and I hope other recruiters would agree that it’s likely representative of the entire recruitment industry. The FA wanted a ‘proven candidate’ at either premier or international level, somebody with previous calibre and success, somebody who wasn’t deemed a risk, a strong person that could control all the difficult personalities. The truth is what The FA thought they needed, because it tended to be the approach that was deemed obvious and what others did, turned out to be the opposite of what would work best, and after the failures of Hodgson, Capello, Allardyce (though he didn’t get a chance), they decided to take a chance on something different. And amazingly the revitalised England squad has the chance to take Southgate’s success past that of Sven and in line with Terry Venables, the manager who took them to the semi finals on home soil where Gareth himself missed the penalty some twenty years earlier. An amazing turnaround in fate, and a fabulous example to people of what can be achieved if you take failure and use it as motivation, though in many people’s eyes, even if we fail on Saturday this has already been a huge success.

As a recruiter it can be quite painful trying to convince people to take a chance, take our recommendation, look further than a CV, and use our guidance and experience to get them to open their eyes to something different. And I think more and more in football, it’s becoming apparent that often the obvious choices are not always the best, and it pays to look at things differently. Germany, for example, the international powerhouse took on Joachim Low as their assistant, a manager who in his 2 previous jobs prior to becoming Germany’s assistant manager, had records of ‘one win, seven draws and ten losses’ and ‘11 wins, five draws and nine losses’. And look at him now (not videos of him picking his nose), a World Cup winner and one of the most widely respected international coaches in the world.

Often what you think you want and need in terms of experience, is not the most important part you need. They might have the right industry experience and the right buzzwords on their CV, but if they have the wrong attitude, the wrong ability, and the wrong approach they will be far worse than somebody who has these things and no experience. Companies are so scared to bring people in who can’t ‘hit the ground running’, they miss out on some of the most amazing people their company might have ever seen. And this applies in all areas, so get rid of the ageism, forget about every candidate having the perfect experience, think about what is right in terms of the personality and vision, as well as the boxes being ticked, and don’t put every bit of onus on a CV. As I can say this first hand; if you take a chance and train in some of these areas you can find the best people – the clear majority of the most successful people at our agency had no prior recruitment experience, including myself.

So, to summarise, my message to hiring managers, HR and internal recruiters around the world is that if you have a good recruiter listen to them, take their opinion on board. Don’t blinker yourselves with what is regarded as the ‘essential industry norm’, take a chance, meet somebody different every time you recruit, and you might just find yourself a Gareth Southgate.

gareth southgateFootball’s Coming Home!

Share this:


Tony B

LOVE this article and you nailed it with title.

Being someone who’s looking forward at what I’ll do in the future. I’m seeing that folks are not ‘looking’ outside the box at candidates.

As someone currently in the process, trying to convince recruiters to take a serious look at someone like me who’s self taught, seems a risk I don’t fathom. I’ve been an operator all my life & know business.

Relying too much on what you see on paper, not having the foresight to look at what has been achieved, value added in their history.

joby read

Thanks for the kind comment Tony, and sorry that you’re facing this battle! Hopefully you manage to find something, and if you need any help feel free to drop me an email over to [email protected]


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *