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"But I prepare the same way every single game, whether a friendly or bottom half of the table, or against Sweden in the quarter-finals of the World Cup".

"We have already accomplished something but this team can do more", he said.

Pochettino this year claimed Alli was the best young player in the world, while Sir Alex Ferguson once described him as being the best young midfielder since Paul Gascoigne, who played in England's previous World Cup semi-final appearance in 1990.

Finally, fully dressed, he will say the same prayer he always does ahead of a game. "They found a way to win, and then against the hosts as well". "That in future we talk about them", said Blažević, now 83, and known in Croatia as the "coach of all coaches".

"But we didn't know all that over there, we'd never experienced it".

Squares packed with red-and-white painted fans, stalls selling football jerseys and flares, drivers blaring their horns, people hugging and singing - scenes reminiscent of 1998 are all around as the country of around four million people lives and breathes football. He scored on his full MK Dons debut, has netted against all of the Premier League's top six clubs and also Real Madrid, and marked his first start for England with a goal.

During the group stage in Russian Federation, coach Zlatko Dalić said it was hard to compare generations when events were separated by a 20-year gap. Belgium, I thought, did great against Brazil - them going out was a great bonus for us.

England have also been buoyed by success on the pitch, where they have reached their first World Cup semi-final in 28 years.

So, if the Moscow semi-final promises to be the most glamorous occasion of Alli's career, then what was the least?

"With the final scheduled to kick off at 4pm on the Sunday afternoon, we want to make sure that, if England make it that far, our team have time to finish work and get home to watch the match, just like everyone else". "But none of the three squads is better than us!"

Former global Mario Stanić remembers perfectly the defeat to eventual winners France in the 1998 semifinal, although he would rather not.

You may well have switched on your TV set at the weekend expecting an exciting game of footy between England and Sweden - which indeed it was.

"Obviously you know that you're getting very close to the final and you do obviously get a little bit excited, but you've got to keep focused", Shilton told Sky Sports News HQ.

"We had our story, they have their own".

It is not as if Croatia are short of other talented midfielders, either.


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