Getting carried away with England is “not such a bad thing” after the Three Lions beat Croatia to progress to the Nations League semi-final, according to Gary Neville.
England scored twice in the final 12 minutes at Wembley to overturn a one-goal deficit and leapfrog Croatia and Spain to win the group, thus advancing to the last four of the inaugural edition of the tournament to be played in Portugal in June.
England had looked set to be relegated from the Nations League top flight when Andrej Kramaric’s goal gave the visitors a 1-0 lead midway through the second half, before goals from Jesse Lingard and an 85th-minute winner from Harry Kane turned the game and helped Gareth Southgate’s side avenge last summer’s World Cup semi-final defeat.
“For so long there has been doom and gloom and low expectation,” Neville told Sky Sports.
“Getting carried away with England is not such a bad thing considering where we have been for the last 15-20 years.
“There has always been high expectation and then disappointment. There was low expectation going into the summer and now we are achieving things.”
England’s game against Croatia in Moscow in July was the first time the Three Lions had appeared in a major tournament semi-final since the European Championships of 1996 were played on home soil, but victory at Wembley leaves the team looking forward to a second last-four outing in under a year.
“After Euro 96 there was a feeling of ‘will you ever get back to this moment again and give yourself that opportunity’, but these players look desperate to create that moment in that careers again,” said Neville.
“It’s difficult, you have to wait two years to get there, but they look like they are building towards the European Championship. We are on the right track and that’s important.”
England will be joined in the final rounds of the Nations League next summer by hosts Portugal and one each from either Belgium or Switzerland and France or the Netherlands.
Topping the group also means a guaranteed play-off place in qualifying for the Euro 2020 finals, although England can secure an automatic place at the finals by topping their group when qualifying begins properly in 2019.