Modric, De Bruyne, Mbappé and other favourites to win the award

Harry Kane and one of the engraved fivers

"The players have to go through big matches and experiences to become a team that can win".

As a result, the relationship between England's players and supporters has softened.

But there will be no sense of the fans being short-changed by the team in this World Cup, as there might have been at the two previous editions.

"The youth and enthusiasm of the team propelled them back into the minds of their public", said Southgate.

"Yes we got a bit of luck with the draw and came up against teams we proved to be better than".

Southgate, who is expected to name a strong side to face Belgium in today's third/fourth place play-off in St Petersburg, added: "I'm old enough now that I don't have to beat myself up unnecessarily". If we were to hold a tournament in ping pong all of us would be rooting for that single player.

Southgate backed the move to keep the achievement in perspective. Perhaps we had played as well as we could have done.

In Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic they have the midfield engines of both Real Madrid and Barcelona, while the scorer of their victor against the Three Lions, Mario Mandzukic, won the Champions League with Bayern Munich and now plays for Juventus.

"We've proved to ourselves that is possible and we've proved to our country that is possible". Still, with England fielding the second-youngest squad all around at the World Cup this year, there's plenty for Southgate to take pride in. I think the football has brought the nation together, people are going to pubs and celebrating, and that's what football should be about.

Even so, he said he would try to lift his team.

"I come back to Lingard and Dele Alli - two players who want to get on the end of things after there has been clever play by somebody else".

"It's been the strangest World Cup. For them to still be singing when we're seeing friends and families, chanting our names and singing the manager's name, is completely different", he said.

"But I think we've done really well to reach the semi-final".

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