England boss Gareth Southgate targets top spot in FIFA world rankings
Southgate collected his OBE for services to football after leading England to the World Cup semi-finals in Russia last summer
By Declan Olley
Last Updated: 04/04/19 4:29pm
England manager Gareth Southgate wants his side to become the best in the world, and claims “very exciting times” lie ahead for the national team.
England moved up one place to fourth in the latest FIFA world rankings on Thursday after European qualifying wins over Montenegro and Czech Republic in March.
Southgate's side have replaced Croatia, who beat them in last year's World Cup semi-finals, to reach their joint-second highest ranking, having been third in 2012.
Speaking on Thursday from Buckingham Palace after collecting his OBE for services to football, Southgate has challenged his team to top the FIFA rankings.
"It's lovely you can plot that progress," he said. "We've talked about trying to become the number one team in the world, and that has to be our aim.
"To go from 15th to fourth might have been easier than the next step, and there are some teams that are behind us that will be working extra hard to bridge that gap as well.
"We're improving, we're enjoying that journey, and we've got to keep doing it.
"If we keep improving and we keep learning from the big matches we're involved in - we've got a hugely exciting summer ahead [the UEFA Nations League Finals] - anything is achievable.
"But we've got to keep the right mind-set and focus to do that.
"I think it's hugely exciting for everybody. We saw those young players win a junior World Cup last year and their potential is huge.
"We know we've got some very exciting times ahead with England."
Southgate received his OBE from the Prince of Wales just a week after England captain Harry Kane collected his MBE for services to football from the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William.
Southgate said: "It's very special. It's a privilege to be the England manager and to receive an award from the royal family - as a proud royal fan, that was very special.
"It's a moment that will live for me forever."
Asked what was said between himself and Prince Charles when receiving his award, the 48-year-old said: "He commented on the improvement in the team, and we talked a little bit about an event we were at a couple of months ago about knife crime so we had a brief chat about that."