Should England manager Gareth Southgate be awarded the Freedom of the Borough of Middlesbrough?
Southgate has just led the England men’s football team to their first final of a World Cup or European Championships in 55 years. And despite narrowly losing the final on penalties to Italy the team have inspired the nation off the pitch as well as on it with their commitment to fighting racism and discrimination and promoting equality.
Southgate’s link to Middlesbrough comes from his five years as a player for Boro and holds the unique position of being the first – and so far only – Boro captain to lift a trophy for the club and to lead them into European competition and the UEFA Cup final.
He was thought of so highly at the Boro that chairman Steve Gibson appointed him as manager of the team in 2006 upon his retirement as a player, a position he held for three years.
A total of 1,768 people voted in an online poll on the Middlesbrough Council website, with 89.5% in favour of awarding Gareth Southgate the Freedom of Middlesbrough.
Mayor Andy Preston launched the poll after a motion was submitted to the Council by Cllr Matthew Storey.
Mayor Preston said today: "There's resounding support for Gareth to be awarded Freedom of the Borough - thanks to everyone who had their say. Thanks too to Matt for submitting the motion to Council. A great idea and exactly the right thing to do. Middlesbrough should be proud of our links to Gareth and this award will be a great way to strengthen them."
Cllr Storey said: "It's great to see there is overwhelming backing from people taking part in the poll. Gareth Southgate fully deserves this honour for the way he conducts himself and leads our national team. He truly represents the best of our country and I will be proud to put the motion to Council later this month."
The motion will be debated and voted on at the next meeting of Council on July 28.