Gareth Southgate's England are many things: record breakers; unicorn tamers; and quite possibly the nicest football team in living memory.

Throughout Euro 2020, the lads have kept taking the knee in support of Black Lives Matter, despite political opposition — and while a furore continues to rage with UEFA on publicly backing LGBTQ+ rights, captain Harry Kane has continued to wear a rainbow armband.

England's journey to a second successive semi-final at a major international tournament has perhaps reminded people what it might mean to be English. And thanks to another brilliant campaign from London’s Migration Museum, it's been a powerful reminder about where they're from too.

The Migration Museum's #FootballMovesPeople campaign has been taking over billboards and pub screens across the country, sharing alternative starting lineups ahead of each England game

It removes any players that started that game who wouldn’t have been there without the impact of first- and second-generation immigrants — and in the crucial match against Germany, for example, just three players remained.

The Migration Museum opened in London in April 2017, dedicated to sharing stories about how movement has shaped what Britain looks like today. It’s hosted exhibitions and workshops to champion immigration as a “powerful force for good,” and reopened in Lewisham after lockdown restrictions eased in the UK in May 2021.

Since 2013, the Migration Museum has run workshops with more than 12,000 students from over 200 schools and colleges.

“It’s no exaggeration to say that without migration, football as we know it wouldn’t exist," said Robyn Kasozi, head of public engagement at the Migration Museum. "But migration has shaped far more than football. It goes to the heart of who we all are, where we come from, and where we’re going."

When it comes to progress, England’s impeccably garbed manager Gareth Southgate has previously leapt to the defence of his team too. 

In an essay called "Dear England", published in the Players Tribune on June 8, Southgate reflected on what it means to represent your country — in football and as role models for young people.

"I understand that on this island, we have a desire to protect our values and traditions — as we should — but that shouldn’t come at the expense of introspection and progress," he wrote.

Gareth Southgate-England-EURO-CUP-IG.jpgEngland's manager Gareth Southgate smiles during a training session at St George's Park, Burton upon Trent, England, June 28, 2021, ahead of their Euro 2020 soccer match round of 16 against Germany at Wembley Stadium.
Image: Rui Vieira/AP

Well-planned migration is an integral component to Global Goal 10 to reduce inequalities, one of 17 world-changing objectives called the Sustainable Development Goals led by the United Nations to end extreme poverty before 2030. But it’s impossible to keep migration safe unless the wider conversation stays responsible — and that must involve holding up incredible success stories for exactly what they are.

Despite an often toxic political environment, this England team has arguably become that story.


Demand Equity

Why England's Heroic Euro 2020 Squad Would Be Nothing Without Migration

By James Hitchings-Hales