Gareth Southgate may be leaving the World Cup without the trophy but he comes home with a loving family and a legion of fans.
And his wife and children were quick to comfort the England manager after the defeat in the semi-final against Croatia last night as they rushed to the pitch at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow to console him.
Southgate, 47, embraced wife of more than 20 years Alison as well as son Flynn, 15, and daughter Mia, 19 and managed to raise a smile as he did so.
The loving family came together just moments after Southgate endeared himself to fans again by hugging all of his players on the pitch after the final whistle.
England manager Gareth Southgate embraced his wife of more than 20 years after the defeat to Croatia last night
The 47-year-old also saved a cuddle for his son Flynn, left, and daughter Mia, right,
Southgate, left, managed to crack a smile at the end of the game for wife Alison, centre, and son Flynn, right, as he was comforted by them
Southgate also made sure to go over to the England fans and show his appreciation to them as the stadium emptied
He also shared a hug with England’s captain and star striker Harry Kane, pictured, after the gruelling 120-minute match
And he also made sure to go over to the fans at the end of the game, just as he has done previously in victory, and show his appreciation to the 10,000-strong crowd of England supporters.
Meanwhile fans back home on social media gave him near universal praise for ‘making them believe again’.
The former Middlesborough boss was once derided for missing a penalty against Germany in the Euro 96 semi final but has come full circle after the World Cup in Russia.
One Twitter user said: ‘Gareth Southgate thanks for all your hard work, both you and the squad. You gave the whole nation a lift. Best of luck next time.’
Another wrote: ‘Think the phrase “Gareth Southgate the whole of England is with you” has never carried more weight, he has helped a country fall in love with the national side again with his passion and ideologies.
‘The World Cup may not be ours but football has come home.’
One fan even branded Southgate a national hero while others called for him to receive a knighthood regardless of England’s defeat.
Southgate received almost universal praise from fans in England who thanked him for his efforts at the World Cup
The England manager, pictured clapping the fans, was one a scapegoat for England after missing a penalty against Germany in the Euro 96 semi final but has come full circle
Southgate is pictured comforting his England players in Moscow after the Three Lions were beaten 2-1 by Croatia in the World Cup semi final
Southgate gathered the team together for a pep talk at the end of the game as sad faces looked on all around him
A Twitter wrote: ‘Gareth Southgate, you are a national hero. Your team have inspired a generation. Pickford, Kane, Maguire et al – thank you for daring to dream.
‘We should be proud of how well we did – we’re all heartbroken but we can rebuild and do our best next time.’
Speaking after the game on where the defeat leaves England, Southgate said: ‘I think that’s maybe something for a couple of days’ time because at the moment we all feel the pain of the defeat.
‘Did we expect to be in this position? I don’t think realistically any of us did.
‘But when you’ve got to this point and we’ve played in the way we have, and as well as we did in the first half, then you want to take those opportunities in life.
‘So, the dressing room and all of the staff is [in] a very difficult place at the moment.
‘Having said that, what I will say is that I am remarkably proud of the group of players that have really advanced.
‘I think the reaction of the supporters to them at the end compared to two years ago tells them that, first and foremost, experiences with England can be positive, that the country are very proud of what they’ve done and the way that they’ve played.
Southgate was seen going around all of his players to check on them, including Jesse Lingard, pictured, who sank to the floor after the match
Fans on social media said Southgate was a ‘national hero’ who had united the country with his ‘passion’
‘And, yeah, there will in time be a lot of positives to take.
‘It’s of course very hard to put that into context and a bit too soon, really, because I think you have to suffer the result a little bit.
‘It’s too easy sometimes to move on quickly.But, certainly, I’m hugely proud of what they’ve done.
‘I couldn’t have asked them to give any more for me or for the country. They have broken through a number of barriers over the last few weeks.’
The 47-year-old added it was ‘impossible’ to make his players feel better at the moment but hoped they would look back in the next couple of days and focus on their achievements.
He said: ‘I don’t think when people look at the experience and last 18 months, that people expected us to be in a semi-final of the World Cup.
‘But, once we were here we really believed we could win the game.
‘For us, it was an opportunity to do something which only one team in our nation’s history has ever done.
Harry Maguire posted a picture of him being comforted by Southgate as he thanked fans for their ‘incredible support’
Harry Kane, pictured being hugged by Southgate, wrote on Instagram after the game the defeat ‘hurt a lot’ but thanked all the fans for their support
‘We’re still one of only three teams ever to get to a semi-final, and I think for all of the players and staff they have got to be proud of that.
‘I don’t think any of them could have given any more.’
He added: ‘For the players, I couldn’t be prouder of what they’ve given. The way they’ve represented their country has been exemplary.
‘They have to go through big matches and big-match experiences to be able to become a team that can win.
‘If you look at every other nation that has had success, they’ve got to semi-finals and maybe not got across the line first time.
‘But they have to use the experience for the benefit – not just tonight’s but lots of other experiences over the last few weeks that definitely will and have made them a stronger team.’