England midfielder Fabian Delph says he and his teammates will live with regret for their World Cup semifinal defeat by Croatia for the rest of their lives.
England finished fourth after suffering a 2-0 loss to Belgium in the third-place playoff on Saturday but Delph’s thoughts were still very much with the Croatia game.
Gareth Southgate’s side led 1-0 at half-time on Wednesday before Croatia fought back to force extra time and a 2-1 victory.
“I am disappointed, it has been a great tournament for us personally and on a group level and we can go home proud of ourselves but I think we will kick ourselves in those quiet moments,” Delph told ITV television.
“The semifinal I think we had a great chance to reach the final and we came up short,” he said.
“Not just in the near future, I think for the rest of our lives we will be kicking ourselves thinking we had a real opportunity there,” added the Manchester City midfielder.
Southgate’s inexperienced side were not tipped to go far in the tournament but they have equalled their best finish since winning the World Cup in 1966.
“We have made massive changes, we have had a fantastic camp and I think we have got something to build from for their next four years,” Delph said.
“Finishing the tournament with a loss there [today] didn’t go down well for us. We played a very good team today who were able to take their chances, ” he added.
Asked if he felt Belgium, who lost to France in their semi, were a stronger side than finalists Croatia, Delph said: “I believe so — they seem to be a better team than Croatia.
“But it’s knockout football, it just takes one performance and some freak things that happen and fair play to Croatia they did well, they kept going and were relentless for the majority of the game and they got the win and so I wish them all the best but we played a very good team today.”