Amateur Photographer

Our images of the year

Ailsa McWhinnie Features editor

‘Gareth and Alison Southgate’ by Michael Zemanek

Who doesn't love a hug? And, as we discovered during this year's FIFA World Cup, England manager Gareth Southgate gives very good hugs. He hugged Mateus Uribe after the Colombian player missed a crucial penalty (and Southgate knows exactly how that feels). And he hugged each and every England player after the team was knocked out by Croatia in the semi-final. At a time when global politics have rendered many of us both hopeless and helpless, with so many aspects of our future appearing nothing other than bleak, the escapism that was part and parcel of the England team's successful run in Russia was pure tonic. It became so much more than simply watching 22 men kick a ball around a pitch. For a while, there was a collective sense of hope and optimism. Even after we were knocked out, the positivity remained.

After the Croatia match – and England's run – was over, Southgate's wife Alison sought him out in the empty stands to give back to him what he had given us for those few weeks. She knew exactly what he needed, and she was all of us at that moment.

I could

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