Joseph Fiennes to Play England Soccer Manager Gareth Southgate in New National Theatre Show

Joseph Fiennes is set to play England soccer manager Gareth Southgate in a new play written by “Sherwood” scribe James Graham.

Fiennes, known for his turns in “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Shakespeare in Love,” will take on the role at London’s National Theatre.

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“Spring Awakening” director Rupert Goold will helm the production.

“It’s time to change the game,” reads the logline. “The country that gave the world football has since delivered a painful pattern of loss. Why can’t England’s men win at their own game?”

“With the worst track record for penalties in the world, Gareth Southgate knows he needs to open his mind and face up to the years of hurt to take team and country back to the promised land.”

Southgate, who began his career as a soccer player, memorably missed a penalty in the European championship in 1996 during the semi-final match between England and Germany when the game went into extra time. Germany went on to win both the semi-final and final and the miss became one of the defining moments of Southgate’s career.

After retiring as a player in 2006, Southgate moved into management, becoming manager of the national England team in 2016.

England haven’t won a World Cup since 1966.

“To tell this story of the national game on the stage of the National Theatre is just the greatest thrill, if an intimidating responsibility,” said Graham. “The experience of working on ‘This House’ at the National Theatre 10 years ago changed my life as an emerging writer. Now, with ‘Dear England,’ to be given the opportunity to shine a light on another public institution in the form of the England men’s football team is, I know, an exciting opportunity. What Gareth Southgate has attempted in his quiet cultural reform of England football I find epic and deeply moving. And I’m so grateful to be surrounded by some of British theatre’s most exciting creative talent to unite around this new show.”

National Theatre Rufus Norris added: “I am delighted to be welcoming James Graham back to the National Theatre this summer with his new play. ‘Dear England’ is a captivating examination into the complex psychology of the much loved “beautiful game.”

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