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By ESPN Staff

Southgate: Olympics good for young stars

Gareth Southgate feels the Olympic football competition should be given the respect it deserves.

Southgate, who is the FA's head of elite development, believes players from all the home nations should embrace the 2012 Olympics, and that the tournament will prove invaluable for their careers.

"It is a great opportunity for young players to get tournament experience,'' Southgate said. "England may have some who have been in Under-21 tournaments before, but the likelihood is if you look at the top Welsh, Irish and Scottish players, then they have not played in major tournaments.

"For them, it will be a great experience to be around the other sports. For everyone involved, it is a shame we have never embraced it and taken a team in before. `It has always been something which other countries have taken really seriously, which is the same for all the other junior international tournaments.

"All the other top players in the world - like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Xavi - have played in either Under-20 World Cups, or the Olympics. It is something now which we have to do.''

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