Southgate given Pearce backing
Gareth Southgate would not have been comfortable taking the England Under-21s post without the blessing of predecessor Stuart Pearce.
After six years at the helm, a poor performance at this summer's European Championship cost the former Manchester City boss his job.
Southgate was overwhelming favourite to replace Pearce from the outset, but only penned a three-year deal to take over as Young Lions boss after speaking with his long-time friend and former international team-mate.
"I have spoken to him three or four times over the last month and I have to say he has been brilliant with me," Southgate said.
"He always said it was a job he loved doing.
"I didn't play with anybody who was more passionate and prepared to give everything for his country than Stuart.
"I know he was extremely proud to do this role as well so it is an awkward situation for me to follow him in that respect.
"But having had discussions with him he felt it was something I should apply for and an experience I would really relish.
"That made it acceptable for me to apply. I would have been a little bit uncomfortable applying for it had we not had that conversation because we know each other so well.
"We played with each other for years in the back four so you do get to know someone pretty well."
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