Published: Fri, July 13, 2018
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

England hailed as heroes after World Cup heartache

England hailed as heroes after World Cup heartache

"We had hoped (for this) and we believed in our team, but the feeling when we finally entered the finals can not be compared to anything", said Ivan Kecerin, 41.

The mental resilience necessary to come through such tests was the result of the emphasis on playing as a team, Dalic said, and indicated a wider trend at a World Cup where the likes of Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi all went home early. "To be in a semi-final - you can smell it. Tripps scoring the free kick, you kind of think it's written in the stars for you to go to the final and hopefully do something special", Walker added.

England defender Kyle Walker is finding meaning in the game no-one wants to play.

"They just kept coming towards me and they fell on me!" he says.

"But above all this World Cup was about a group of lads embracing every moment, enjoying ourselves and doing ourselves justice". To be honest, it might even have been the best in my lifetime.

The majority of the players can play the next World Cup.

The final blow was inflected when striker Mario Mandzukic put the Croatians 2-1 ahead in the 109th minute to send them through to the final.

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This time around, we could see the stars play, or we could see some more reserves to get some guys some minutes, and that makes picking here hard.

Trippier, the England goal-scorer, was injured in the second overtime and could only watch from the bench as the clock ran on England's dream of returning to the World Cup final for the first time since 1966. Belgium and England face off in the third-place match after losing in the semifinals.

Unsurprisingly, "Southgate" is one of the top three words linked to England, with the manager becoming a national hero, while the other two are "fresh" and "confident".

"It was a tough game, a 50-50 game, I'm sure we'll look back at stuff we could have done better but we worked as hard as we could".

Former national goalkeeper Peter Shilton said the missed first-half chances were "costly" but told fans to remember how far the team had come.

"A couple of weeks ago, I would have taken this result", said another England fan.

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