Get to know the footballers in ‘Dear England’
Learn more about the athletes in this new drama inspired by Gareth Southgate’s management of the England men’s national football team.
Dear England is entering extra time, moving to the Prince Edward Theatre in London’s West End. James Graham’s new play, which follows England team manager Gareth Southgate, is designed for both football fans and non-football fans alike. However, it might be helpful to familiarise yourself with some of the key players in this new play, coming to the West End stage directly from the National Theatre.
Dear England offers an intriguing perspective on the changes made to the men’s England national football team under Southgate's leadership. Follow the ups and downs as many well-known, and perhaps lesser-known, figures make appearances.
Find out more about the characters in this new play below and book tickets to Dear England on London Theatre.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup marked the start of an unusual phenomenon: "The Gareth Southgate Effect." The former England football player turned manager, Gareth Southgate, revitalised the team and reignited a sense of national pride and optimism for England’s football future.
As a player, he notably represented England in major tournaments but is infamously remembered most for his penalty miss during the 1996 Euro semifinals. Taking the reins of the national team in 2016, Southgate brought a modern style of leadership with a focus on unity, discipline, and adaptability.
Southgate led the team to several near victories, including the 2018 FIFA World Cup semifinals, the 2021 UEFA Euro final, and the 2022 FIFA World Cup quarterfinal.
Harry Kane is the captain of the England team, appointed by Southgate. He made his debut with the national team in 2015 and has since made 84 appearances and scored 58 goals, playing a key part in the team’s success.
Jordan Pickford made his debut for the England national team in November 2017. He was selected for the 2018 FIFA World Cup squad and played a pivotal role in England's journey to the semi-finals. He was honored with the “Golden Glove,” an accolade acknowledging him as the tournament's best goalkeeper. Notably, he made a critical penalty shootout save against Colombia in the 'Round of 16' during this same tournament.
Jordan Henderson has represented the England national team in numerous tournaments, and as vice-captain, he has earned praise for his leadership both on and off the pitch.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Henderson gained widespread recognition for raising funds for the NHS, in addition to supporting various other charitable causes.
Bukayo Saka made his debut for the English national team in 2020 and is regarded as one of the best young football players in the world. During the 2020 UEFA Euros, he experienced heartbreak as he missed the crucial final penalty.
In a more unusual turn of events, the inflatable unicorn that Saka was seen with in widely circulated photos from a pool party during the tournament has found its place in the collection at the National Football Museum. Yes, the inflatable unicorn even makes a cameo appearance in Dear England.
Marcus Rashford made history as the youngest player to score on his England debut at eighteen years old.
Using his platform to raise awareness about child poverty, Rashford effectively campaigned for the extension of free school meals for children from low-income families during school holidays through his 'End Child Food Poverty' initiative.
Harry Maguire is England’s top-scoring defender with seven career goals playing for England so far. He scored a crucial header for England in the 2018 FIFA World Cup quarter-finals against Sweden, helping the team reach the semi-finals.
Jadon Sancho made his debut with the England team in 2018. He is of three England squad members to face a torrent of racial abuse following the penalty shootout loss in the 2020 UEFA Euro final. The popular comedy-drama TV show "Ted Lasso,” which follows a Premier League football team, incorporated a storyline inspired by this backlash in its third season.
Growing up in a low-income family, Sancho played football on the streets. In 2019, he collaborated with Nike to give back to his community in South London by building a pitch for young footballers.
Raheem Sterling is one of the fastest players in the Premier League, boasting a top speed of 34.97 kmph. More recently, he launched a foundation that offers university scholarships and work placements to assist young individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Dele Alli is another member of the England squad who has made charitable contributions to improve the lives of seriously ill children and underprivileged youth. During his debut match with the England team, the midfielder scored an incredible goal in a friendly against France.
Eric Dier scored a decisive penalty in England’s penalty shootout win over Colombia at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, securing England's first penalty shootout victory at a World Cup.
Southgate enlisted sports psychologist Pippa Grange to identify what was lacking in the England team’s performance. She revitalised the mentality of the England team, placing greater emphasis on team culture and mental well-being.
A similar storyline is included in Apple TV's hit series "Ted Lasso" when the fictional football coach hires a psychologist in season two to help the team overcome mental barriers.
Photo credit: The cast of Dear England (Photo courtesy of Marc Brenner)
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