England’s narrow World Cup semi-final defeat to Croatia in Moscow was far from a depressing experience for fans of the Three Lions.
Of course, losing stings and coming so close to a first major tournament final since 1966 will hurt for some time to come. But it’s easy to forget exactly what this country’s international side was between 1996 and 2016. And there was no humiliation, no daylight robbery: England were fairly but narrowly outlasted in extra time by a nation with that little bit extra about them.
All of those positives, including Gareth Southgate’s transformation of a young and hungry squad with a refreshing attitude in interviews, helped soothe the agony of failure… that is, until several post-match quotes emerged from a select few Croatian footballers.