That was tough to swallow last night wasn’t it? In the end the experience and brilliance of Modric and Rakitic, and canniness of Mandzukic was too great for our young lions. If Kane or Lingard had got a second, and Kane should have, then that might have been too much for a tired Croat side to come back from.
There was Trippier’s perfect free kick to get us going, yet Croatia led by Modric, rallied in the 2nd half and started to dominate the midfield, and as we started to lose momentum, Croatia grabbed the initiative and made the kill with just 11 minutes of ET left.
Another way to exit a big tournament game, and I think we will for a while all feel that after over half a century we missed such an opportunity to contest a World Cup Final. Nonetheless like millions of other Englishmen and women this group of young men representing us has made their way into my heart.
I was hurting today, my head was sore too, but the feeling of pride outweighs the hurt. Proud of a dignified manager and a group of young men that have united a nation, and reminded us, at a time when the nation sorely needs reminding, what it is like to all push in the same direction and have a dream to chase and a national sports team to be emotionally attached to.
I have mostly in later life been pretty apathetic to the English national team. I had no emotional connection with overpaid, average on a world stage footballers content to sit on benches in the most overblown league in the world. The players, with a couple of exceptions, never looked as if they were proud to wear a shirt with three lions on it, and as various managers rolled through the role at great expense, there was just one turgid performance after another culminating in another rubbish display when it mattered.
But somehow over the last month football came home to all of us, and I’m so happy it did.
I watched the game in a busy bar in Brooklyn, New York and got talking to a family of Charlton fans who sat at the next table. We eased each other’s tension and my brother, who flew out to Moscow for the game with his huge CAFC flag, was updating me with photos and texts.
Easy to say now, but I was up for the travelling to the Final, and had flights on hold, and one fellow Addick planned on coming with. Even to just be in Moscow for it, to meet my bro and his mate, who planned on staying past Sunday if we’d won last night, would have been brilliant. It was sadly not to be.
Meanwhile I will forever be envious of my bro, him and I have seen well over a thousand games in each other’s company, so I was gutted I couldn’t join him. He told me today that he met some incredible fellow English fans. A couple of big Brighton lads saw his flag, walked over and asked who was Charlton. He stepped out from the group he was drinking with, and the Brighton lads walked up to him and hugged him tight.
Like others have said he was very complimentary of the warmth of the Russian people and is sure to cherish every minute of a once in a lifetime experience, although you never know maybe these young lions will bring football home a little more regularly.