St Petersburg — Everyone loves a winner, however the English public’s embrace of its national team goes beyond the routine pride in sporting success. For a country bitterly divided by the Brexit referendum as well as by age-old regional and class divides, the national team’s journey to the World Cup semifinals has been a relief from political rancour. But it is not merely a case of a temporary burst of patriotic fervour papering over the cracks in society. There is something about this young England team and its articulate manager, Gareth Southgate, that has created a genuine connection that has not been felt for a generation. Much focus has been on Southgate who, in a country where few politicians enjoy much popularity, has received universal approval ratings. "Southgate is a gentleman…. He’s polite and self-depreciating, but … he is ambitious and successful with it," Observer columnist Nick Cohen said. "He’s a million miles away from the Boris Johnsons and Piers Morgans who fill o...

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