England’s World Cup journey came to an unfortunate end the other night when they lost 2-1 after extra time to Croatia in their semi-final. It was a heartbreaking way for things to end for a team who had given it everything they had over the course of their time at the tournament, but in all honesty, we feel more pride than we’ve ever felt for an England team before.
While picking up the win may have always been the key, going on to our first World Cup final since 1966, it wasn’t everything. As we saw back in 1990 simply getting to the final four of a tournament as big as the WC can do wonders for the spirit around the country, with thousands upon thousands of fans taking to the streets in order to celebrate England’s passage through to this stage of proceedings.
Gareth Southgate has single-handedly been able to transform the viewpoint of the England national team, and it really has been great to see. Overcoming the odds is something that he’s never had to shy away from, and he’s never wanted to either. It’s all about how you define success and, to us, being one win away from our second ever best World Cup finish doesn’t sound all too shabby.
You can definitely single out some players who struggled against Croatia, and we did surrender the lead that we initially had, but that doesn’t undo all of the great work that was done in the lead-up to the Croatia game. In fact, if anything, it makes it look all the more impressive. We didn’t go down without a fight and you could see in the aftermath of the loss how much it meant to the players, and when you look at how young our squad is, that should fill us all with a great deal of hope and optimism for the future.
They’re only going to get better from here and that isn’t a prediction, that’s a virtual guarantee. More eyes than ever will be on them now, too, as they prepare to kick off the Premier League in a few short weeks. Some people probably don’t think that domestic football comes into the equation but it really does, as the EPL will once again have a positive reputation – more so than it did before Russia 2018.
So while it’s okay to be sad, try and remember all the good that’s come from this run.
How do you feel about England’s World Cup campaign?