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Blink scores definitive account of Gareth Southgate’s England tenure from Northcroft and Draper

Blink, a leading commercial non-fiction imprint of Bonnier Books UK, has acquired the definitive, behind-the-scenes account of the England men’s football team’s journey from no-hopers to genuine contenders from acclaimed sports journalists Jonathan Northcroft and Rob Draper.

Senior Editor Joe Hallsworth acquired world all language rights from David Luxton at David Luxton Associates. 

Dear England: The Real Story of the Three Lions Rebirth delves into Gareth Southgate’s turbulent journey to being hired as England manager, to his emergence as a waistcoated cult figure and becoming the country’s most successful manager since Sir Alf Ramsey. Award-winning football writers Jonathan Northcroft and Rob Draper have had extraordinary access to the England team during Southgate’s tenure and take us behind the scenes as they interview key backroom staff and players to give the complete account of the highs and lows of Southgate’s reign and the sea change that took place throughout the entire England set up.

Interviewees include Gareth Southgate, Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Declan Rice, John Stones, Bukayo Saka, Dan Ashworth, Martin Glenn, Steve Cooper, Jesse Lingard, Danny Rose, Wayne Rooney, Gary Neville and many more.

Joe Hallsworth said: ‘The England men’s football team has undergone a seismic culture change under Gareth Southgate and there are no writers better placed to reveal how this transformation has taken place than Jonathan and Rob. They have had unprecedented access to the heart of the team throughout his tenure and through interviews with the key players and staff, they tell the real story behind this remarkable revival. It’s a tremendous privilege to be publishing such a timely book on the subject as we head into Euro 2024 this summer, and I can’t wait for football fans around the country to read it.’

Jonathan Northcroft has been the Chief Football Correspondent at the Sunday Times since 2009 and is a frequent contributor to Sky Sports, BBC, BT and TalkSport football programmes. Inaugural winner of the Jim Rodger Memorial Award for young sports writers in Scotland, he has written books on modern football journalism, England’s rebirth at the 2018 World Cup, Leicester City’s 2015-16 title miracle and collaborated with Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel on his Sunday Times bestselling autobiography One.

Rob Draper is the European Football Writer of the Year 2023 and previously Sports Journalist Association Football Reporter of the Year and Social Media Journalist of the Year. Formerly the Mail on Sunday‘s Chief Football Writer, Rob now writes for the Guardian. Rob has collaborated with Gary Neville on the Sunday Times Bestseller The People’s Game and is co-author of Class of 92: Out of our League along with Gary and Phil Neville, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt.

Jonathan Northcroft said: ‘Rob and I have been talking about writing this book since 2018, when we got hooked on the England turnaround story while covering the team at the Russia World Cup. The story has only become richer and more compelling since then and it’s so exciting to work with the brilliant team at Bonnier to bring it to print.’

Rob Draper said: ‘It’s been a brilliant book to write as this story has dominated the last eight years of my life. In fact, arguably it’s dominated my whole life, if you go back to my first memories of watching England, being allowed to stay up late for the Brazil game in 1978. It starts out as a story about culture change and how you turn a failing institution around. It becomes a story about the essence of England, what it means post Brexit, the convulsions of Covid and what are the limits of footballer activism.

‘It’s a companion piece to the play, which I enjoyed very much, but which is a dramatic work with the necessary devices. The real story is even more complex and richer. If you loved the play, you’ll love the book.’

Dear England will be published in hardback, audio and eBook in June 2024, to coincide with the Euros 2024.