The image of Paul Gascoigne parading a plastic belly and pair of breasts during England’s jubilant homecoming parade is indelibly etched on the mind of anyone who remembers Italia 90.
Then, the England squad were mobbed by some 300,000 fans as they arrived home at Luton after the semi-final defeat to West Germany and revelled in their newfound hero status.
By sharp contrast, Gareth Southgate is determined that his young squad will not have their heads turned in such a fashion, swiftly quashing plans for a parade, or indeed any celebration at all.
The modest football manager was “incredibly cautious” and wanted to impress upon the players and the nation that their “journey is only just beginning”, an FA source revealed.
As such, the FA confirmed “there will be no fanfare” on the team’s return and suggested they would actively try to avoid the scenes that unfolded 28 years ago.
A spokesman said: “There is no planned celebration at this point. We are not actively promoting the date, the time or even the airport they will return to.”
The FA had started making tentative plans for the final a few days ago and had intended to orchestrate a parade in London for Tuesday, had they beaten Croatia. But even then, Southgate, who has impressed fans and pundits alike with his refusal to bask in the limelight, was characteristically wary.
The clamour for a heroes’ welcome continued on Thursday despite the team’s loss, as Downing Street revealed that Theresa May was keen to hold a reception for the squad at No 10.
A spokesman for the Prime Minister said: “She thinks he [Southgate] did a fantastic job and thinks the players and fans can look forward to a bright future.”
There were calls for Southgate to be knighted, led by Ed Miliband and Lord Sugar, and also to be nominated for the BBC Sports Personality Coach of the Year award.
Paddy Power slashed the odds of the manager being named in the New Year’s honours list to 6/4 from 6/1 before the quarter final and 250/1 before the tournament began.
The bookmaker said Southgate was “massively odds-on” – 1/25 – to be named Coach of the Year at the BBC awards and had stopped taking bets on England winning the Team of the Year award.
But Southgate is determined that his players should not get ahead of themselves and is keen to avoid any criticism concerning egotistical behaviour.
An FA source added: “There is a lot of talk of celebrations but Gareth Southgate is quite modest. He’s the one himself who’s saying: ‘No, this is too much. There’s a lot of work still to do.’
“He wants everyone just to take stock and focus on the next match, the next tournament.”
The team returned to its base in Repino for a rest day following the Croatia match, before training for the third place play-off match against Belgium tomorrow. They are expected to fly into Birmingham on Sunday afternoon, according to reports, ahead of the final.
The players will then take a well-earned holiday before returning to their respective clubs.