England captain Harry Kane says he believes his side “restored pride in the shirt” after the team’s gallant march to the World Cup semi-final, which ended in a 2-1 defeat to Croatia at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
A Mario Mandzukic goal in the 109th minute sealed an extra time victory for Croatia after an early Kieran Trippier free kick was canceled out in the second half by Ivan Perisic during normal time.
“We gave it everything, I know we’re gonna look back and say we could have done this and what but at the end of the day ot was small margins in a big game and it didn’t go our way today,” said striker Kane, currently the tournament’s top scorer with six goals.
Kane had lead England to their first World Cup semi-final since the Italia ’90 tournament 28 years ago, and in doing so scored record amount of goals. Trippier’s set piece on five minutes was England’s 12th at Russia 2018, more than any other Three Lions side.
England will now play Belgium on July 10th in the third place playoff match, a game that could see Kane extend his personal goal tally, but is not the game he would have initially wanted to have played in.
“It’s not something I’m really thinking about at the moment to be honest, it’s not the game we wanted to be in,” Kane admitted.
“It is what it is, we’ll try and play that game with as much pride and try and finish on a high, but we’re still gonna be hurting of course in that game, in three or four days time we’re still gonna be thinking about this one and what could have been, you know.
“Yeah of course [I want to play]. I think everyone will want to play but the gaffer will make a decision but yeah we’re extremely proud of what we’ve achieved and we know we’ve restored some pride in the short back home as well.
“So we can hold our heads up high but of course we know it’s an opportunity that on another day we could have done even more,” he added.
Tottenham Hotspur striker Kane paid tribute to Croatia, led by Real Madrid’s Luka Madrid in the center midfield, and conceded that the “small margins” that make such a big difference didn’t go his side’s way not he night.
To everyone who supported us.
To everyone who believed this time was different.
To everyone who wasn't afraid to dream.
To everyone who knows this is only the beginning.
— England (@England) July 11, 2018
“We had a good spell we went one nil up and we had a couple of chances we’re we could have got another. Second half, fair play to Croatia they came out and put the pressure on and we were under the cosh for a little while,” the 24-year-old skipper said.
“But we handled it well, but unfortunately we conceded at the wrong time, after that I thought we again picked it up again and done well.
“But it’s small margins, in extra time we get a corner cleared off the line. These are the things that you need to go your way in the big games and unfortunately for us it didn’t.”
In Gareth Southgate, England have a manager who has brought new vigor to the national team setup, and who has managed to transform a side who crashed out to minnows Iceland at Euro 2016 into World Cup semifinalists.
Kane revealed the plan is to “build on foundations” set in place buy the 47-year-old manager, who is still a rookie on the international stage.
“The gaffer had a little word and said we should all be proud of ourselves. Nothing he is going to say is going to make us feel any better,” Kane said.
“To be proud and hold our head up high we’ve come a long way, especially from two years ago. You can hear the fans singing out there after the defeat it’s a proud feeling you know and all we can do is try and build on it.”
“We’ve built a good foundation after the last couple of years with the manager and it’s important that we carry that on, we’ve shown that we can do well in these tournaments and the aim now is not to wait another 20-odd years to get in another big semi-final, to come again and try and achieve our dream.”