Gareth Southgate has challenged his vibrant young England side to build on a year to remember after they clinched a place in the Nations League semi-finals in dramatic style.
Just over a year ago, England’s qualification for the World Cup was greeted with yawns and a barrage of paper aeroplanes from fans disillusioned by decades of underachievement.
But Southgate’s team won back their place in the nation’s hearts over the course of a remarkable 2018 that saw them reach the World Cup semi-finals for the first time since 1990.
Although that World Cup run ended with an agonising extra-time loss to Croatia, Southgate and his players have refused to be defined by failure in the way that their more vaunted predecessors in the Three Lions shirt often were.
So when Andrej Kramaric gave Croatia the lead against the run of play in the second half of Sunday’s winner-takes-all shoot-out at Wembley, it was a coming of age moment for England’s prodigies. Read more