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Why England fans should be waking up happy

POSTED ON 12 JULY 2018

So yes, England’s World Cup campaign came to a devasting end last night thanks to an extra-time winner from Mario Mandžukić which saw Croatia go 2-1 up

 

Despite the heartbreak and hurt for everyone up and down the country, there is a sense of pride for this young England side. You could’ve been forgiven for starting to believe that England were going to end their 52 years of hurt, especially as the whole nation were getting caught up in World Cup-fever.

In four short weeks, Gareth Southgate’s men have discarded the penalty shoot-out hoodoo, won a knockout game and reached the semi-final of the World Cup. Southgate has managed to win the hearts of the nation, restored pride into England and brought back a connection that a generation of England fans never felt with their England team.

In the months leading up to Russia 2018, pundits and England fans were quick to write-off this side and thought a quarter-final appearance would be a dream rather than an expectation. However, this young side, most of whom hadn’t been born when England last reached a semi-final, cruised past their quarter-final fixture and narrowly missed out on reaching the final.

Along the way, many unsung heroes emerged and inspired the whole of the nation. Four years ago, Harry Kane had just broken into Tottenham’s first team after four unsuccessful loans spells to various clubs; Jordan Pickford was sent out on loan to League One club Bristol City; Harry Maguire joined Hull City from Sheffield United; Jamie Vardy was playing for Leicester City in the Championship and a 20-year-old John Stones signed for Everton from Barnsley. What every player has achieved in the last four years, and this summer, was highly inspiring and showed how proud we are to call them role-models.

Speaking to the BBC, Gareth Southgate said his England had “come of age”.

“There’ll be a new benchmark and level of expectation,” said Southgate. “To become a winning team there are hurdles you have to overcome – and we’ve surpassed many of them.”

He added: “Many of our players have come of age on the international stage.”

England had the second youngest squad at the World Cup and exceeded expectations to reach the last four for only the third time in their history – after 1966 and 1990.

Critics said Southgate wasn’t good enough to take this side to a World Cup, and the players weren’t even ready to go. However, Gareth Southgate and the team managed to bring a whole nation together and create special memories for England fans in Russia and back home.

On Saturday at 3pm England take on Belgium in the World Cup third place play-off. A game which traditionally is seen as one nobody wants to play, it is one last chance for England fans to come together to not only celebrate this great summer, but to look ahead to what’s to come for this exciting England side.

 

Image source: Hindustan Times.

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