Gareth Southgate gave England staff handwritten notes before World Cup

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Gareth Southgate's side face Croatia in the semi-finals on Wednesday at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

"Croatia's passage to the World Cup final is a historic result which has made us the focal point of world attention", head of the board Kristjan Stanic said in a statement.

"We've definitely written ourselves into history, given the conditions and infrastructure back home, we are a miracle", he added.

But he lamented England's failure to take full advantage of what appeared an unusually easy route to the final, avoiding most of the heavyweight teams in Russian Federation.

"The team and the individuals will be better in a couple of years time".

"We had hoped (for this) and we believed in our team, but the feeling when we finally entered the finals can not be compared to anything", said Ivan Kecerin, 41.

England and Belgium will play the third place play-off on Saturday, while the final of the world's top sporting competition will take place on Sunday in Moscow.

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"But we will do that and we'll make sure we are ready as a group to go again because the group have huge pride in their performances, in the way that they work".

Southgate, for his part, is committed to continuing the overhaul of the England squad and prior to the World Cup name-checked several young players who he has his eye on. "Winning isn't an obligation, but we want this".

"But equally we want to be a team that's hitting quarter-finals, semi-finals, finals - that was what we've aimed to do in the long term and we've proved that is possible".

The Chelsea defender said: "It is a good conversation for me to have with the manager in the coming month or so".

"I think that's maybe something for a couple of days time, at the moment we all feel the pain of this defeat", he told reporters.

Kieran Tripper, who was perhaps England's best player out in Russian Federation and scored on the night, was comforted by wife Charlotte and their young daughter.

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