It all started with a sacking.

AN investigation from the Telegraph showed newly-appointed England boss Sam Allardyce being paid to show businessmen how to get around third party ownership.

'Big Sam' inevitably walked away from the role and it was left to Gareth Southgate to pick up the pieces, both on and off the pitch.

A huge task for a man who has only previous managed one club before in Middlesbrough.

The start of a journey

On Teesside, Southgate went straight from the changing room to the dugout in the blink of an eye.

In ironic circumstances, Steve McClaren left Boro to talk up the mantle of England boss. Southgate, who wore the captain’s armband at the time, was asked to step up to become manager. A huge ask for someone who had not completed their coaching badges.

Three years at the helm at the Riverside saw them relegated to the Championship and he was relieved of his duties after short time in the second tier.

Since then, Southgate has elevated his coaching standards to new heights.

England career coaching career begins

Three hugely successful years with the Under 21’s allowed him to find his feet again and formulate a winning mentality. One that saw just three defeats in 33 games and becoming champions of the 2016 Toulon Tournament.

Southgate once again found himself in almost a repeat scenario when Allardyce was sacked, stepping up into an unfamiliar senior role. However, he was much more equipped to handle the pressures of the role.

Bracknell News: England Manager Gareth Southgate during the training session at St George's Park, Burton. PA Photo.England Manager Gareth Southgate during the training session at St George's Park, Burton. PA Photo.

Southgate was tasked with something that looked simple on paper. He had four games to prove his worth.

Two wins and two draws later, Southgate found himself signing a four-year contract with the FA as the England boss. A meteoric rise that not many would have predicted.

From Russia With Love

Following on from putting pen-to-paper, The Three Lions qualified for the World Cup in Russia with a young and hungry team at their disposal.

That meant some of the senior heads had to step to one side. Southgate had to deal with the scenario surrounding the ageing Wayne Rooney and his playing time for his club.

The England captain stepped away from international duty and Southgate was at liberty to unearth new talent ahead of the tournament.

As England made their way to Russia, they took with them one of the youngest teams at the tournament.

Knowing full well the personalities and lively characters he was taking to Russia, Southgate instilled a relaxed atmosphere where the players were able to play by the rulebook but also be themselves without strict protocols. It looked to many as if instilled a togetherness in the squad, something that England were devoid of for some time.

The national team have always had a fiery relationship when it comes to the media. Plenty of shots have been fired England’s way in the past and there was always intense scrutiny.

But Southgate played the media to his advantage right the way through the tournament allowing regular access to most members of the squad, including himself, in an NFL style interview room where journalists could hand pick the players they wanted to speak to.

What everyone will remember that tournament for is for what happened on the pitch.

After a tense opening win against Tunisia, a comfortable victory over Panama and defeat to Belgium, England were expecting heartbreak once again in the last 16 when the tie went to penalties against Colombia.

Bearing the Three Lions across their chest, Gareth Southgate’s side held their nerve as Eric Dier dispatched the winning penalty.

After victory over Sweden in the last eight, Croatia awaited them in the last four who had Ivan Rakitic, Luka Modric and Mario Mandzukic at their disposal.

Kieran Tripper sent the nation in ecstasy with his early free kick but it wasn’t to be England’s night as the Croatians pulled it back to go onto win in extra time.

For the young squad, it was a moment they’ll never forget, for the right and the wrong reasons and Gareth Southgate was the architect to it all.

It remains to be seen how he’ll approach England’s latest competitive tournament but fans can’t wait to watch it all unfold.