Monday , July 22 2024

There’s a street in Việt Nam named ‘Southgate’

The surname Southgate, translated into Vietnamese means “Cửa Nam” (the southern gate), which is also the name of a street in the capital’s heart.

 

The street sign of Cửa Nam street, which can be transliterated into English as “South-gate”. VNS Photo Anh Đức

Anh Đức

HÀ NỘI As Euro 2024 is closing in on its final days, big names are making the headlines in papers around the world.

One such notorious name is England’s manager Gareth Southgate, whose presence is polarising in the media, mostly on his tactics and how the Three Lions are playing.

Coincidentally in Hà Nội, the capital of Việt Nam, the name of the England manager is made even more popular.

The surname Southgate, translated into Vietnamese is ‘Cửa Nam’ (the southern gate), which is also the name of a street in the capital’s heart.

But the street was not named after the manager born in 1970, but rather, can trace its history way back to the era of the Thăng Long citadel.

As the name suggests, the street is where the southern gate of the citadel was located, which during the Later Lê (Hậu Lê) dynasty was also the only entrance to the citadel. Near the entrance, a square called Quảng Minh Đình was located, where a big drum is placed for peasants to send complaints and alerts to mandarins. Residents also gathered here to hear about royal proclamations.

After the French colonists came, the gates and the square were destroyed and in its place a garden called Place Neyret was built, where a 2.85 metre replica of the Statue of Liberty was once situated. The replica lasted until the August Revolution in 1945, when the statue was brought down by the people of Hà Nội.

 

Location of Cửa Nam in central Hà Nội. Screen captured from Google Maps.

Part of the Old Citadel streets of Hà Nội, Cửa Nam, despite only 244 metres long, is perhaps one of Hà Nội’s crowded intersections, connecting four central districts of the city. There are also many hotels and guesthouses around the street, due to the close proximity to the Hà Nội’s main attractions.

It is a five-minute walk to the Temple of Literature, a twenty-minute walk to Hoàn Kiếm Lake and is a fifteen-minute walk from the Hồ Chí Minh Mausoleum.

The Cửa Nam – Hàng Bông – Điện Biên Phủ intersection on January 23, 2018 when Việt Nam U23s beat Qatar U23s on penalties to advance to their first U23 Asian Cup Final. VNS Photo Anh Đức

But what truly connects Cửa Nam and Southgate, is the football aspect.

Whenever Việt Nam wins in a major regional tournament, thousands of Hanoians rush to the street and the intersection nearby from all corners, racing there on their motorbikes heading towards Hoàn Kiếm Lake in a tradition called Đi Bão to celebrate the national team’s victory.

The street is clogged with people and motorbikes for hours and everything around is splashed with red, in the colour of the Vietnamese flag.

Nguyễn Hồng Sơn, a Vietnamese football legend, who went head-to-head with international superstars such as David Beckham in the 2001 Pepsi World Challenge (and even placed second), also spent his childhood here, before becoming the hero and idol of many Vietnamese children (including the author of this article).

The residents here, when asked about the peculiar coincidence, felt surprised because most did not recognise nor understand the English translation.

But most of the men living here follow the tournament closely and hope the best for the somewhat-namesake coach and his Three Lions.

“England is probably the most famous team here, because we have been watching the Premier League for decades,” said Cầu, a local vendor.

“It’s a strong team on paper, with great stars and all, but they did not play up to their fullest potential! England have been waiting for a trophy for a long time so, it is now or never,” Trung, another local added.

Southgate is currently looking to be the first coach to lead England to two finals, and the first one to win a major trophy since Sir Alf Ramsey in 1966.

And who knows?

After the tournament, whether football is coming home or not, Việt Nam could be a destination for a vacation for Gareth, where he can pose with the street sign that bears his name in Vietnamese? VNS 

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