Gareth Southgate appointed successor to Stuart Pearce as England Under-21s manager

The FA confirm the former Middlesbrough manager as their man

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The Independent Football

The former Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate has been appointed by the Football Association as Stuart Pearce’s successor as England Under-21s manager.

The 42-year-old was selected from an all-English shortlist that included the former England manager Steve McClaren and the former Portsmouth, Blackburn and Blackpool manager Michael Appleton. It was always the FA's preference to appoint an English coach, although Rene Meulensteen, the former Manchester United coach, was among those who applied.

All candidates for the job had to be holders of the Uefa pro license and the FA is satisfied that Southgate, who has been given a three-year contract, came through a rigorous appointment process.

He will be responsible for the Under-21s 2015 European championship qualifying campaign which starts next month and also - in an extension of the job description - have a role overseeing all the junior age groups from Under-16s to the Under-20s.

Southgate left the FA in July last year after 18 months as the head of elite development at the organisation, passing up the chance to become the technical director - a job that went to Dan Ashworth, formerly of West Bromwich Albion. It was Ashworth who was on the panel that gave Southgate the job today, an appointment considered crucial to the regime of new FA chairman, Greg Dyke.

Southgate resigned from the FA last year despite being the first choice for the role that Ashworth now occupies by some distance. At the time it was thought that the new job, based at St George's Park, would involve too much administrative work and not enough coaching for Southgate.

Speaking about his appointment, Southgate said: "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.

"I'm a proud Englishman and playing for my country was the pinnacle of my playing career. Since retiring as a player I have gained a lot of knowledge and experience of the game both here and abroad, and 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."

Following a very poor showing this summer from its Under-21, Under-20 and Under-19 sides in international competitions and tournaments, Dyke has made the junior team structure one of his priorities. It was felt that a well-known name was needed at Under-21s level, as well as some former players employed to coach lower down the age groups, to raise visibility and impress on players the importance of England duty.

Southgate, who won 57 caps as an England international, last worked as a manager in 2009 when Middlesbrough were relegated in May that year to the Championship. Despite a decent early showing the following season he was dismissed in October to make way for Gordon Strachan.

Since leaving the FA, Southgate has been concentrating full-time on his role as an ITV pundit on their England and Champions League coverage. It was not clear whether he will continue in that position. He will also have responsibilities to contribute to the FA's part in the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) upon which English football has staked the future of youth development.

Roy Hodgson said: "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."

Ashworth said: "I look forward to working with Gareth. He came through a comprehensive and thorough interview process, showing a real understanding of our need to ensure a consistency in the style of play across the England development teams at every level.

"Gareth shares our belief that now is an important moment for English football. It is the time for change and his ideas and experience will be crucial to the direction we wish to take the development teams in the future."