The Real Gareth Southgate: Former Teammate George Boateng on How the England Manager Is Behind the Scenes and His Hopes for Middlesbrough This Season

5 min read

George Boateng on Gareth Southgate

Head coach Gareth Southgate of England looks on prior to the UEFA EURO 2024 final soccer match between Spain and England, in Berlin, Germany, 14 July 2024 (reissued 16 July 2024). EFE/EPA/FILIP SINGER

In an exclusive interview with Responsible Gambling, George Boateng, former Middlesbrough captain and teammate of Gareth Southgate, provides an insider's perspective on the England manager's playing days, his character, and his potential as a coach. Boateng also shares his expectations for Middlesbrough in the upcoming season.

Southgate's Playing Days and Potential Move to Chelsea

Boateng, who first played with Southgate at Aston Villa before spending six years together at Middlesbrough, highlights Southgate's qualities both on and off the pitch. He describes Southgate as a fantastic human being and a knowledgeable player who was highly respected by his teammates. Not many people are aware that Southgate almost joined Chelsea during his prime, as Boateng reveals:

"Chelsea, when they were about rising, wanted to sign Gareth Southgate as their main center-back before John Terry broke through."

Boateng reflects on their partnership on the field, noting how he felt secure playing as a holding midfielder with Southgate behind him, and vice versa. Their strong connection extended beyond the pitch, as they remain in regular contact to this day.

Leadership Qualities and Managerial Potential

Boateng and Southgate

Credit: REX

From early on, Boateng saw leadership potential in Southgate. During their time together at Middlesbrough, Southgate matured into a good leader and eventually became the team captain. Boateng explains:

"At Aston Villa, we were both young, but in Middlesbrough, we were together for six years. You could see that he was maturing and becoming a good leader as a captain."

Boateng further elaborates on how some players show leadership qualities from day one, while others develop them over time. In Southgate's case, Boateng knew he would become a successful manager, especially during their time at Middlesbrough.

The Lighter Side of Southgate

While Southgate is known for his professionalism, Boateng shares that there is a humorous and personable side to him that the public rarely sees. The nickname "Nord" was given to Southgate due to his precise way of speaking and his grey Hush Puppies, reminiscent of TV presenter Denis Norden. Boateng fondly remembers Southgate as a responsible, funny, and happy individual who enjoys joking around, contrary to his serious public persona.

England's Tournament Performance

Reflecting on England's recent 1-0 win over Serbia, Boateng addresses the ongoing debates about the team's quality and the performance of the technical team. He emphasizes the importance of securing wins in major tournaments, even if the performances are not always spectacular:

"When you’re in a tournament, it's always about qualifying. You first try and get out of the group as soon as you can. Once you get out of the group, now you take every game step by step."

Boateng acknowledges the challenges teams face in tournaments, such as loss of form, suspensions, and injuries, and stresses that the key is to progress through the group stage to increase the chances of winning the tournament.

Hopes for Middlesbrough


Credit: Sky Sports

As a fan of the Championship and a former player for Middlesbrough, Boateng expresses his hopes for the club's future under manager Michael Carrick. He praises Carrick's leadership and the support from owner Steve Gibson, highlighting the importance of stability and loyalty in achieving success. Boateng is optimistic about Middlesbrough's prospects and believes they are getting closer to securing a place in the Premier League:

"The team is building, and they are getting closer every year. Maybe this season they will get there, but it's a very competitive league."

Boateng concludes by expressing his admiration for the club's efforts and his belief that with continued support and dedication, Middlesbrough can achieve their goals in the near future.

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Paruyr Shahbazyan began his business career in 2000 as a private entrepreneur. Over thirteen years, he developed a deep understanding for business and leadership, laying a solid foundation for his professional journey.

In 2013, Paruyr stepped into the sports and betting industry as the founder and president of Bookmaker Rating. This online mass media platform, which he led until 2020, focused on providing in-depth analysis and insights in sports betting, earning a reputation for its quality content. 

Continuing his innovative approach in 2022, Paruyr co-founded Azuro, a decentralized betting protocol. This venture showcases his dedication to integrating advanced technology in the evolving landscape of sports betting. Through these diverse experiences, Paruyr has continuously influenced and shaped the betting industry, driving new trends and setting high standards.

Engaged in private entrepreneurship2000-2013
Founder and President at Bookmaker Rating, an online platform focused on sports and betting2013-2020
Co-founder at Azuro, a decentralized betting protocol2022

"Innovation in sportsbetting comes from a deep understanding of both technology and the human element of sports." 

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Paruyr Shahbazyan's core beliefs lie in the power of informed decision-making and integrity in the betting industry. He understands that the foundation of successful betting is not just about odds and predictions, but also about the trust and reliability of the information provided. Paruyr advocates for a betting environment where transparency and knowledge are paramount, ensuring that bettors are well-equipped with accurate data and insights.

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Paruyr's vision is to revolutionize the sports betting industry through the integration of technology. He sees the future of betting as a blend of traditional sports knowledge with innovative tech solutions, like decentralized protocols, to enhance user experience and fairness. His aim is to create platforms that are not only user-friendly but also uphold the highest standards of ethical betting, contributing to a more responsible and enjoyable betting culture.

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Looking towards the future, Paruyr envisions a betting landscape that is more inclusive, technologically advanced, and globally connected. He anticipates a significant shift towards more decentralized and transparent betting systems, driven by blockchain technology. Paruyr is committed to being at the forefront of this change, continuously exploring new possibilities and innovations that can redefine what it means to engage in sports betting in a digital world. His focus is on building systems that prioritize user empowerment, fairness, and the global growth of the sports betting community.


Sol Fayerman-Hansen
Sol Fayerman-Hansen

Sol's interest in sports was sparked at a young age, inspired by athletes such as Barry Sanders, Michael Jordan, and Wayne Gretzky. This early fascination evolved into a deep-seated passion, guiding him toward a career in sports journalism in 2007. Over the years, Sol has contributed thousands of articles and reviews to dozens of online platforms, sharing his research, knowledge, and perspectives.

“In the world of sports betting, truth is more valuable than any bonus offer.”

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Cristina Varela Galan
Cristina Varela Galan
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Cristina used to work as a Psychology Assistant in the Bizkaia Pathological and Risky Gamblers Association. She was also part of a research team in Deusto University, specializing in pathological gambling area. While working there, she managed to develop her own project 

 “Exploring the association between emotional regulation, alexithymia, stressful life events and gambling in adolescent and young adult women”.

Nick Ashbourne
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Senior Writer

Nick has been fascinated with sports since he was first taken to a Toronto Maple Leafs game back in 1998, and he's written about them professionally since 2014.

Nick has covered baseball and hockey for outlets like The Athletic, Sportsnet, and Yahoo Sports, and his sports betting expertise has grown since its legalization in Ontario in 2022. 

Between 2022 and 2023 he worked for a betting startup called NorthStar Bets, and in 2024 he contributed to Oddspedia before joining the Responsible Gambling team.

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Mark Medina
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Mark Medina is a longtime NBA reporter that includes stints as a Lakers blogger with The Los Angeles Times (2010-12), Lakers beat writer with the Los Angeles Daily News (2012-17), Warriors beat writer with Bay Area News Group (2017-19) as well as an NBA reporter/columnist for USA Today (2019-21) and (2021-23). Medina is also an NBA insider with Fox Sports Radio and frequent contributor to CBSLA's SportsCentralLA with Jim Hill and with Spectrum Sportsnet.

Daria Tuboltseva
Daria Tuboltseva
Hockey Journalist

Daria went to St. Petersburg State University and earned a bachelor of international journalism. Working as a sports journalist from 2014, from 2016 as a hockey journalist. Covered 5 World Championships, 2022 Winter Olympics, 2020 World Juniors, 6 Gagarin Cup Finals. 

Owner of a telegram channel Coolest Game on Earth.

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