Nearly a decade after he started repairing England’s tarnished reputation, Gareth Southgate is approaching his end game with the chance to burnish his legacy by winning Euro 2024.

Entering what is likely to be his last major tournament as England boss, the stakes are high for Southgate.

England have never won the European Championship and are still waiting for Southgate to deliver a major trophy after several agonising near misses.

Southgate has been linked with Manchester United, who are still pondering Erik ten Hag’s future after his troubled second season culminated with an unexpected FA Cup triumph.

United might appeal to Southgate although, 15 years after his last club job with Middlesbrough, he hinted retirement could also be an option if England return from Germany with the trophy.

“I’ve never spoken with a club in all my time in the job. I think that would be disrespectful to the position I hold,” he said.

“The reality of that is we focus totally on this tournament. I’ve worked in this building for over 10 years and, yeah, the ambition has been to win a tournament.

“So there’s nothing for us to consider until we’ve done that. And if we can do that, maybe I’ll retire and do nothing anyway.”

Southgate’s men will start the Euros firmly established as one of the leading contenders and should coast through Group C, where they face Serbia, Denmark and Slovenia.

That lofty status is a stark contrast to England’s low ebb when Southgate took over eight years ago after a series of humiliations on and off the pitch.

A woeful Euro 2016 exit against Iceland brought a suitably depressing end to Roy Hodgson’s England reign, while his successor, Sam Allardyce, lasted only 67 days and one match before being forced out after a newspaper sting.

A surprise run to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals in Russia gave Southgate credibility among previously sceptical fans.

He followed that impressive achievement by leading England to their first major final for 55 years at the Covid-delayed European Championship in 2021.

While Southgate has made England a team to be feared again, he has yet to win the silverware his football-obsessed country has craved since Bobby Moore lifted the World Cup in 1966.

The success of England’s women’s team in winning the Euros in 2022 and reaching last year’s World Cup final has only increased the hunger for success for the men’s team.

England's Euro 2024 fixtures, dates and potential route for tournament in  Germany | Football News | Sky Sports

The 2018 World Cup campaign ended in a 2-1 defeat to Croatia in the last four after England squandered the lead, while Italy recovered from Luke Shaw’s early goal to defeat them on penalties in the Euro final at a shell-shocked Wembley.

At the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, England performed admirably in their quarter-final against France before crumbling as the tension mounted.

Beaten 2-1 after Harry Kane missed a late penalty, Southgate escaped without the scathing criticism that so often accompanied previous England exits.

Yet not only did England again lose when the stakes were highest, the feeling lingered that Southgate had failed to make the most of the talent at his disposal.

The England boss, hailed as a fashion icon for donning a debonair waistcoat at the 2018 World Cup, will be eager to quash suspicions that he loses his cool when the pressure mounts.

Southgate must allow his forwards to show the full extent of their talent in Germany after accusations his cautious tactical approach prevents players from expressing themselves.

While there are concerns about England’s defensive weaknesses, Harry Kane, Phil Foden, Jude Bellingham and Bukayo Saka are among the stars that could carry them to Euro glory.

UEFA EURO 2024 ENGLAND VS DENMARK PACKAGE PAX £500 Rev, 54% OFFA success-starved nation expects great things and Southgate has a glorious climax in mind.

“It is a moment that unites people, that’s one of the great privileges about being involved with international football,” he said.

“Seven, eight years ago, it didn’t quite feel the same. But now I think there’s a strong connection, there’s an excitement.

“I think people like the way that the players play. And we hope we can take everybody on another brilliant journey.”