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Southgate takes charge of England Under-21s

"I'm delighted to get this role and extremely excited," said former England defender Gareth Southgate after being announced as head coach of his country's Under-21 side.

Gareth Southgate represented England on 57 occasions
Gareth Southgate represented England on 57 occasions ©Getty Images

Former England defender Gareth Southgate has been appointed as head coach of the country's Under-21 side, succeeding former international team-mate Stuart Pearce.

The ex-Crystal Palace FC, Aston Villa FC and Middlesbrough FC player is taking on his first managerial role since leaving Boro, his only club coaching position, in 2009. Since then he has worked with the English FA as head of elite development from February 2011 to July 2012.

"I'm delighted to get this role and extremely excited about the prospect of working with the best and brightest young players in the country," said the 42-year-old, who won 57 caps. "I'm a proud Englishman and playing for my country was the pinnacle of my playing career.

"I'm eager to play my part in preparing players to compete at the highest level. Whenever any team steps onto the pitch for England, being successful is of huge importance, but it is also about developing a clear style of play that can allow our talented young players to flourish."

Southgate will also oversee the coaches responsible for England's other youth teams, down to the U16s. "I know Gareth well and he has the right philosophy and approach to football, and I'm very much looking forward to working with him," said senior boss Roy Hodgson.

"Having taken the U21s [in a 6-0 friendly win against Scotland] earlier this month I'm aware of the talent that exists within the group, so it is a great opportunity looking ahead to the tournament in two years' time."

Southgate's first test will come when England host Moldova on 5 September in their opening 2015 UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifier.