'I was afraid to go to Wembley in the 90s - we can't let racists take us back'

England manager Gareth Southgate leaves the Grove Hotel, Hertfordshire. Picture date: Monday July 12

Peray Ahmet has been inspired by England football manager Gareth Southgate - Credit: PA

No one could have predicted the lifechanging events that have rocked the world over the last 15 months. No one saw it coming and no one knew of the physical and mental toll it would have on each and every one of us.

Despite the thousands of deaths across the country and untold sacrifices that have been placed on families, we have somehow managed to pull through as we look to get back to some kind of normality.

If ever there was a time when we needed some good fortune it was now, and the events of the last few weeks have seen communities united in a way that only sport can achieve for everyone across the nation.

Cllr Peray Ahmet

Council leader Peray Ahmet, has been supporting England during the Euros - Credit: Haringey Council

I have felt proud to be an England football supporter and I’m sure I speak for many others when I say it has given us all a sense of belonging.

Let’s be honest, it has been very hard for people of colour to support England before and that is now changing. I was afraid to even attend an England game Wembley in the early 1990s when I went with my father. We need to take a stand against bigotry and not be so divided as a society.

The ignorant actions of a minority who feel it is within their rights to attack Black players on social media will not take us back.

We have taken strong measures in Haringey to ensure there is no room for any kind of racism and our diverse communities will simply not stand for it.

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I cannot speak highly enough of the job that Gareth Southgate has done as the England manage and he has set the tone for bringing this country together and raising the spirits of everyone.

I completely agreed with Gary Neville’s assessment when he said: "He's everything a leader should be - respectful, humble, he tells the truth."

As a new leader of the council, I can only learn from the qualities he has brought to the team and put this into practice.

I have made it clear from day one that we will be a collaborative council and will give all our residents a voice. I want to make everyone feel a sense of belonging and Haringey standing strong as a united community.

Cllr Peray Ahmet (Lab) is leader of Haringey Council.