Too early to take positives for proud England boss Southgate

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If they had beaten Croatia, England would have reached only their second World Cup final.

Thousands of fans gathered at major outdoor screenings for the knockout games as World Cup fever gripped the nation. "The enthusiasm they have for these players, they've been brilliant ambassadors for our country, it's great for them they've got some enjoyable moments playing for England now".

Southgate was reluctant to draw any positives from England's World Cup experience so soon after the crushing loss to Croatia, but said there obviously were many high points and pointed to a bright future for his young, talented squad after their success in Russian Federation.

His friend Joe Carter, 43, from York, added: "We really thought it was going to be different - this was our chance". We should have finished them off in the first half. I'm devastated for them.

The Croatians become the smallest nation to contest the World Cup final since Uruguay, who won the tournament in 1950 when the nation had a population of around 2.4 million.

Croatia, on the other hand, resorted to extra time against Denmark, Russia and England, while in the first two games, they needed penalty kicks to advance.

Her 24-year-old boyfriend played well but could do little about his Croatia's extra-time victor, which was scored by striker Mario Mandzukic.

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"But when you've got to this point and we've played in the way we have, and as well as we did in the first half, then you want to take those opportunities in life".

"If I was in charge of the FA there would be no doubt that I would keep Gareth Southgate and Steve Holland and give them the chance to take the team to the next Euros and the next World Cup".

The most-cherished national team memory remains the 1966 World Cup final victory at Wembley over West Germany, a demarcation point in the island's history as much as 1066 (the Norman invasion) and 1707 (union with Scotland).

"We've shown we can do well in these tournaments and the aim is now not to wait another 20-odd years to get to another big semi-final".

"During extra time against Russian Federation I felt knee pain".

"The difference sadly is a set play in a very close and tight game", lamented Belgium boss Roberto Martinez.