Southgate calls medics 'heroes' as he looks forward to Euros in 2021
Gareth Southgate called medical staff fighting the coronavirus pandemic "heroes" as the England boss spoke about the pride he expects to feel when the postponed European Championship finally takes place.
Earlier this week it was confirmed by UEFA that Euro 2020, which had been scheduled to begin on June 12, had been pushed back a year due to the spread of COVID-19 and its chaotic impact on the sporting calendar.
It is hoped the suspension will ensure domestic seasons and continental cup competitions can resume and be completed in the window when the Euros were due to happen.
Southgate, whose team have seen friendlies against Italy and Denmark this month cancelled, has written a letter to England fans telling them not to "spend another moment thinking about the postponement" while paying tribute to those working to combat coronavirus.
"For everyone in our country, the primary focus of the present - and the coming months - is undoubtedly to look after our families, support our communities and work together to come through what it clearly the most extreme test that we've faced collectively in decades," Southgate said.
"On behalf of all the teams and staff, I would like to take this opportunity to send our sympathies to those who have lost loved ones already. Our thoughts are with you and with those who sadly will suffer similarly in the coming period."
He added: "We were due to play next week and to represent you all this summer, but now is clearly not the moment for us to take centre-stage.
"The heroes will be the men and women who continue working tirelessly in our hospitals and medical centres to look after our friends and families. They won't receive the individual acclaim, but we all know their importance is beyond anything we do on the pitch.
"When we play again as an England team, it will be a time when not only our country but the rest of the world as well is on the road to recovery. Hopefully we will be closer to each other than ever, and ready for the beautiful distraction that football can bring.
"To play in a European Championship next summer will still be possible for all of our squad and so we shouldn't spend another moment thinking about the postponement of the competition.
"I feel sure that, when that moment comes, I will never have been prouder to be the leader."