Youth and diversity – how Southgate's team came to represent 'modern England'

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England reached the World Cup semi-finals for the first time since 1990

London-born poet and writer Musa Okwonga, the son of Ugandan immigrants, looks at how England’s multicultural team captured the imagination of a nation and became role models for young people.

England’s football team, as it prepares to make its way home from the World Cup, has done something almost as impressive as claiming the trophy itself: it has captured the hearts of even the most sceptical people in the country.

Those people, long accustomed to heartbreaking disappointment when it comes to the country’s football fortunes, saw something entirely different this summer: a group of players playing to the very edge of their potential, and beyond.

They also saw, in the words of manager Gareth Southgate, a team which in its youth and diversity represented “modern England”. In terms of race and background, Southgate’s players were as varied as you might find at a convention of YouTubers or on the line-up of the Wireless Festival.

At the start of the World Cup, the Migration Museum