Gareth Southgate’s time as England manager will be the subject of a new play charting the “existential crisis” of the national team.
The play has been written by James Graham, whose previous works include the politically-charged Brexit: The Uncivil War, and will feature British star Joseph Fiennes in the lead role when it opens at the National Theatre.
The work titled Dear England will follow Southgate taking over a team in 2016 which was facing an “existential crisis” amid the backdrop of Brexit, its writer has said, and then his pursuit of a “gentle revolution” which changed the psychology and image of the squad.
Graham added that Southgate’s transformation of the national team into a side that could win a penalty shoot-out was a “Shakespearean” tale of redemption, given that the former defender missed a crucial spot kick in 1996 which saw England exit the Euros.
"I think what has happened to the men's England football team over the past six years has been quite extraordinary,” Graham told BBC news.
"It's been humming along in the background, but we're only starting to really understand now Gareth's gentle revolution."
Major names in world football have driven the transformation which saw the team reach the UEFA Euro final in 2020, including Harry Kane and Bukayo Saka, but full casting for the play covering this period of change is yet to be announced.
However, Shakespeare in Love star Fiennes has been announced as the lead in Dear England, and writer Graham said of his return to the stage: "We sort of joked together - him, me and the director - that your return to stage would normally be Henry V or King Lear, not Gareth.
"But I do think it has that scale, that epic quality, his journey, in the unlikely figure of Gareth Southgate. I hope that's what drew Joseph to the part."
Rufus Norris, director of the National Theatre, said that Dear England would be a “captivating examination into the complex psychology of the much loved ‘beautiful game”, and the work is not the first sporting drama to be staged at the venue.
In 2002, the National staged Roy Williams’ Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads, a play set in a post-match pub which examined xenophobia and racism.
Dear England will premier in June, just six months after Southgate's team was eliminated from the World Cup finals in Qatar.