With Wembley being the home of England since it’s re-opening in 2007, watching the Three Lions in another stadium in the country is a rare event these days, yet Southampton proved that maybe it shouldn’t be.
A seemingly routine fixture against Kosovo, who only played their first international match as a recognised FIFA nation in 2014, turned into an eight-goal thriller that saw England go behind in the opening minute, defensive errors from both sides, and Harry Kane prove that he can, in fact, miss penalties.
Indeed, it was one of the most exciting and topsy-turvy England games fans have witnessed in years, and the setting for it only made it that much better as the atmosphere at St. Mary’s was electric from the first minute to the last.
An impressive achievement as it was only the second time ever that an England senior men’s match had been held at the home of the Saints, with the previous encounter taking place 17 years ago as a Three Lions side featuring the likes of David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Michael Owen submit to a 2-2 draw against Macedonia.
Another player to feature in that match was current England manager Gareth Southgate, who after the game admitted to the press via Southampton’s official website that the city of Southampton and St. Mary’s made the experience a memorable one of the squad.
Southgate said: “The people couldn’t have been friendlier or more helpful. We’ve had a brilliant experience and the atmosphere in the ground was absolutely top – credit to the Kosovo fans as well, who added to that. I hope the people have enjoyed having England nearby, and being able to walk down the road and see them has hopefully been a special experience.”
Big words from the current England manager only backup what many Southampton fans already believe, that their beloved stadium is one of the best out there in the country, with The Sportster backing this up by placing St. Mary’s ahead of the likes of the Molineux and Selhurst Park in their Premier League stadium ranks.
England’s trip to Southampton has proven to be a success in terms of entertainment and encouraging a city away from the capital to get behind the national team, and promising words from Southgate could signify that more competitive games outside of Wembley could take place in the near future.