'Losing will live with me forever': England boss Gareth Southgate says Croatia game will haunt him but vows to finish World Cup with a medal by beating Belgium in third-place play-off
- Gareth Southgate watched England's loss to Croatia at 4am on Friday morning
- He then realised just how close they had come to making the World Cup final
- Like his penalty miss in Euro 96, the defeat will, he admits, haunt him forever
- He is determined to bring his England team home with a bronze medal to cherish
By Sami Mokbel for the Daily Mail
Published: 17:35 EDT, 13 July 2018 | Updated: 19:51 EDT, 13 July 2018
Gareth Southgate has urged his World Cup heroes to end their tournament in style by beating Belgium to bronze on Saturday.
The players are still recovering from Wednesday’s heartbreaking semi-final loss to Croatia, but have the chance to secure England’s second-best tournament finish in today’s third-place play-off.
‘In terms of mentality, it’s obviously been a really difficult couple of days,’ said Southgate. ‘I was watching the game at four o’clock this morning. That is going to live with me forever.’
Gareth Southgate says England's World Cup semi-final defeat will live with him forever
‘We were 20 minutes from a World Cup final and then, in extra time, 10 minutes from a shoot-out to get to a World Cup final. That is going to live with me for ever, there is no doubt about that. The reason for us being here was to achieve that big goal.
‘We got back to St Petersburg at 6.30am the day after the game, so it has been an emotion-fuelled few days.
‘But we have high motivation to perform and finish with a medal at a World Cup, which only one England team have done.
‘The players are incredible. Their energy and desire to finish the tournament well, we owe it as much to ourselves as to our nation to finish well. We’ve set the standard of how we work, the standard of how we play, and we want to maintain those standards right to the end.’
Southgate comforts Ashley Young after England's extra-time defeat by Croatia on Wednesday
Eric Dier and Dele Alli look devastated after their World Cup adventure came to a crushing end
Southgate was a player the last time England lost in a semi-final — at Euro 96 — and feels just as much pain this time around.
‘Contextually, this is different in that I feel that team (in 1996) with all its experience, playing at home, were closer to the finished article and knew a lot were not going to have the chance again,’ said the manager.
‘Now my care is for everybody else and picking them up first and foremost, energising them for this game.
‘Your responsibilities lay elsewhere as a manager.
‘It’s different but no less painful, for sure, but I’ve also got to get everyone else through the next three days.’
Southgate will make changes to his starting XI.
He insisted he will not finalise his team until this morning, but Ashley Young and Jesse Lingard are doubtful through illness. There are also injury concerns over Jordan Henderson (hamstring) and Kieran Trippier (thigh).
Fabian Delph will start in midfield, while Danny Rose, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Eric Dier are vying for starts.
Harry Kane, two goals ahead of Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku in the race for the Golden Boot, is likely to start.
Southgate said: ‘Harry was on board with us not playing him against Belgium in the group game. He wanted to do what was right for the team. It would be even more powerful for him to win the Golden Boot having made that sacrifice. But we have to decide who can go again physically. We want to make as few changes as possible.’
Southgate will make changes to his starting XI with several injury issues emerging from the tie