England midfielder Eric Dier has told ESPN Brasil he wants the team to inspire future generations after they reached a first World Cup semifinal since 1990.
A 2-0 win over Sweden in the quarterfinals on Saturday, secured by goals from Harry Maguire and Dele Alli, set up a meeting with Croatia in the last four.
“It means a lot to us,” Tottenham player Dier, speaking in Portuguese to ESPN Brasil’s Francisco de Laurentiis, said. “This is only the third time that England have reached the semifinals, and the first time in 28 years.
“I want this to be an inspiration for future generations of English footballers. I hope that, when they look at us, they know that everything is possible and that they can also go far.”
Dier, who grew up in Portugal, said he had always dreamed of being called up by England but “never imagined what’s happening today.”
But he stressed that, despite the elimination of a host of big names from the tournament in Russia, England would be taking nothing for granted.
“All the matches here at the World Cup are very hard,” he said. “Since the beginning of the tournament, we’ve seen the big teams struggling against other teams that some considered to be weak.
“However, there is no such thing as a weak team in a World Cup. There’s a lot of quality here, in every team. We experienced that against Sweden. It was a really tough game.
“Our great triumph is our unity. We have a really great bond between the 23 players and the staff. We’re ready to fight for each other and we have a very strong mentality.
“Everyone has been able to see this since the beginning of the World Cup, and now we expect to be here until the last day.”