Football

Neville explains why England ‘overachievers’ should be ‘proud’

Former England defender Gary Neville believes Gareth Southgate’s squad can be proud of their achievements after they narrowly missed out on the World Cup final.

Kieran Trippier fired England ahead after just five minutes with a superb free-kick but goals from Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic earned Croatia a date with France after a 2-1 extra-time win in Moscow.

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Neville said on ITV1: “The first thing to say is this team has taken us to a place we never imagined we could get.

“I said before the tournament England never overachieve, this team has overachieved getting to the semi-final and they can all be absolutely proud.

“They have taken the nation with them. You see all the fans out in the park to see them. I never thought I’d see scenes like that (in) this World Cup.

“They can be absolutely proud. We did say before the game these lads have to take this opportunity because it may never come again.

“All I hope as I look at them now crying, disappointed, upset is they get another opportunity as good as the one they’ve just had.”

Neville felt the way the team unified a nation is something they can look back on with delight.

“They’re the youngest team in the tournament,” added Neville. “I hope they’re in that position again, 1-0 up with 20 minutes to go with the opportunity of getting into a World Cup final.

“You look at (Ruben) Loftus-Cheek, you look at Trippier, they give absolutely everything.

“Three or four weeks ago people were talking about this England team, there wasn’t even a connection to this England team.

“People looked on it in some sort of despair. Now you look at what’s happened after three-and-a-half weeks everyone’s absolutely loved it.

“And they can be proud of that because it’s difficult to do that. There’s no doubt there’s been progression from a few years ago against Iceland.

“This team can now cope with better moments and better pressure. Gareth’s been fantastic and he’ll be thinking we’ve got to get here again.”


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