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Southgate says he is 'oblivious' of Lineker's four-letter criticism of England

COLOGNE, Germany (AP) — Gary Lineker's stinging criticism of England created waves at the European Championship.

Gareth Southgate, however, said he was “oblivious” to the four-letter assessment delivered by one of England's greatest players and one of Britain's biggest television stars.

“It is not important to me at all,” he said on Monday. “If you don’t open yourself to it, it can’t affect you.”

England's preparations for its final Group C game against Slovenia on Tuesday have been conducted against the backdrop of media and public criticism after the team's 1-1 draw with Denmark.

“We have to reflect the mood of the nation,” Lineker, the former England captain, said on his podcast, The Rest is Football. “I can’t imagine anybody, who is English, that would have enjoyed England’s performance because it was lethargic, it was dour ...

“You can think of all sorts of words and expletives if you like,” he added, before using a four-letter word of his own.

His comments made headlines in the English media and earned rebuke from captain Harry Kane.

Southgate chose not to engage.

“The great thing about being in this job for a long time is I’ve managed to realize how to manage myself in the best way. So a few years ago I would’ve read things, I would’ve listened to things, and it would’ve saddened me and it would’ve taken energy from me. Now I have to cut myself off from it.”

Lineker is the highest-paid star on the publicly funded national broadcaster, the BBC. His political opinions have upset the U.K. government in the recent past when comparing the government’s language about migrants to that used in Nazi Germany.

Now he has turned his fire on the national soccer team, but Southgate said no criticism could be worse than his own.

“We are a high-profile team with expectations and we fully understand everything we do will be scrutinized so I am very comfortable living that life and I don’t need to engage in external because I am my own biggest critic. I think our players are as well,” he said.

"So there is nothing to be gained for us, that is going to help improve us, listening to external criticism. We know what we have done well, we are very honest about that. We know when we need to be better, we are brutally honest about that.”

Southgate was appointed England manager in 2016 and led the team to the semifinals of the 2018 World Cup.

England lost the final of the last Euros to Italy on penalties, and was knocked out of the 2022 World Cup by France in the quarterfinals.

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James Robson is at https://twitter.com/jamesalanrobson

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AP Euro 2024: https://apnews.com/hub/euro-2024

James Robson, The Associated Press