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Gareth Southgate was the latest in a long line of ex-professionals to take UEFA.com users' Twitter questions. The former England defender, who represented his country 57 times and played over 500 club matches in an 18-year career, is now putting his knowledge of the game to use as head of elite development at the Football Assocation (FA). Southgate, who missed the decisive penalty in the EURO '96 semi-final against Germany, recalled the triumph against the Netherlands in the same tournament as his favourite in an England shirt and gave an insight into what it takes to coach at the top level.
@thegilbertros: What is the favourite England game you played in?
Gareth Southgate: The game against Holland at EURO '96 was probably the best team performance by an English side over the last 20 years: the style of the game and play against the Dutch, who were favourites coming into the competition. It was a brilliant night, a lovely warm summer's evening at Wembley, the colour of the Dutch fans made the occasion even more memorable. The goal that Holland scored at the end knocked Scotland out as well, so it was a perfect evening for England!
@SoccerIsLifee7: Who is your favourite player at UEFA EURO 2012?
Southgate: So far I love [Andrés] Iniesta. Of all the Spanish players he is the one who's most on song in this tournament. I'm also a big fan of [Bastian] Schweinsteiger – the German mentality is something that English people can relate to very clearly. His response to missing the penalty in the Champions League final is there for everybody to see.
He's a mentally tough character. His reading of the game is brilliant and his leadership on the field is outstanding. He's in the right areas at the right time, and technically he's a very gifted footballer. If there was a player in the tournament that isn't playing in the English Premier League that I think would be really suited to it, and you'd love to see there, it would be Schweinsteiger.
@power_ray: I'm an A licence coach learning my trade. What are the three most important things when working with players?
Southgate: A lot depends on the age of the players because it's very different working with young players compared to working with more senior players. Certain things never change – you've got to be well prepared for your sessions, you've got to put some thought into what you're trying to get out of the session and how you're going to go about that. You need to build relationships with the players as people. If you speak to players and you ask them about the coach, they tend to like the coaches that they feel cared about them as people, not just as players.
My last point would be that, especially if you're not working with professional players, and with younger players in particular, they need to feel like they can make mistakes without the coach being on their backs. You've got to create an environment where they can express themselves, try things and not play with fear.
@RaeesOsmanGani: Do England need a revolution in their style of play? Surely England have the resources to be as technical as Spain?
Southgate: I work with the English FA at the moment, and there are lots of plans in place to try and change the culture of how kids play in our country and to develop their technical skills more as well as their understanding of the game.
I don't think we should be copying what Spain do. Culturally we're different, and the climate is different for our youngsters to train. Unfortunately we can't train on a sunny day. Very often, through our winter, kids have to run through mud, but we need to improve our technical ability, definitely.
@DonOfTheWorld1: Do you think England have enough strength to win EURO 2012?
Southgate: I don't think any England supporter would have travelled or be watching at home expecting England to win the tournament. There are other teams that are further advanced at the moment. If I think back to 1996, Gary Neville was our youngest player in the team but I was the second youngest and I was 25 so we had a very, very experienced side. Now we have 19-year-olds and 21-year-olds in the group. For them, it's probably a little bit early but the experience of being here will be a huge learning factor for them. Who knows how far they can go? They should enjoy it and see how far they can get.
@SaifulHamdi: Who do you consider to be favourites to win UEFA EURO 2012?
Southgate: I thought Germany before the tournament and nothing I've seen would lead me to change that view. I'm sure Spain will get stronger as the tournament progresses and Russia have been excellent to watch. For the balance of the team and the quality of the squad, Germany still look, to me, the best side in it.
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