Croatia coach Dalic chooses the hard path to success

Croatia coach Dalic chooses the hard path to success

"There's nothing more handsome, as a professional football player, than to play in the World Cup final", he said at the pre-match news conference.

That agonising 2-1 extra-time defeat to wily Croatia was compounded on Saturday as Belgium's "Golden Generation" won the third-place play-off 2-0 in St Petersburg.

Seven years on, he took over a Croatia squad in disarray and slowly rebuilt the unity that has allowed them to get the best out of their individual talent and reach Sunday's final against France.

"I was just changing my lens as the players ran towards me", the photographer told AFP news agency later.

But there is no rush on either side for a deal to be agreed, with Southgate already signed up until Euro 2020, when England have a great opportunity to go one round better than in Russian Federation, with potentially four or five of their games at Wembley.

He is one the world's best footballers, no doubt, but there is a backstory leading to his reputable status and success that has led him to become such a valuable player. We can't be more joyous and proud when we see what joy we have brought to the country.

Gareth Southgate, England coach: "We're under no illusions as to where we stand as a team; we've finished in the final four but we're not a top-four team yet, we know that and we've never hidden behind that".

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We are here to help every player. "The national team didn't do the result they wanted, but today he's on holiday". 'Last year was hard for everyone, not only Mesut. "For us Mesut is a very important player".

"Everyone should be proud, even though we were devastated at losing the semi-final". "We know how hard it was for you to get here, now enjoy and have fun, it was worth it". This team really is very special - and it all comes from the manager.

"When you play for or manage England, expectations are always pretty high, but because we are better we should be better able to cope with it", he said. I couldn't ask for any more from the players.

The decision meant Croatia, whose last three knockout-round games lasted 120 minutes, have had to play the tournament with 22 players instead of the usual 23.

England manager Gareth Southgate said his team were made welcome in Russian Federation during the World Cup despite diplomatic tensions between Moscow and London. I think when I was a player I had a very simplistic mindset.

"We are going to keep getting stronger".

"The experiences the players have had and the enjoyment is important in an England shirt".

"We are in the World Cup final".

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