England’s World Cup final dream over but William ‘couldn’t be more proud’
Gareth Southgate’s team lost 2-1 to Croatia in the semi-finals.
England fans were left devastated as the nation missed out on a place in the World Cup final.
The dream was crushed for supporters in Moscow and at home as Gareth Southgate’s men lost 2-1 to Croatia in the semi-final after extra time.
Millions tuned into the eagerly-anticipated match, with sorrowful scenes up and down the country after days of singing “It’s coming home”.
The Duke of Cambridge took to the official Kensington Palace Twitter account to speak of his pride in the team.
Ending the tweet with a W, he wrote: “I know how disappointed @england must feel right now but I couldn’t be more proud of this team and you should hold your heads high.
“You’ve had an incredible #WorldCup, made history, and gave us fans something to believe in.
“We know there is more to come from this @england team.”
Prime Minister Theresa May said: “Wasn’t to be this time but it’s been a great journey that’s made the country proud. We’ll be flying the flag on Saturday.”
Crowds gathered at locations including London’s Hyde Park, Millennium Square in Leeds, Nottingham Castle, and Birmingham’s Archway outdoor cinema.
England came to a standstill as the 7pm kick-off approached, with roads deserted and shopping centres abandoned as fans dashed home to catch the historic game.
The 23-man England squad, which has an average age of just over 26 and was the tournament’s third youngest, had the hopes and expectations of a nation on their shoulders.
But a place in the World Cup final against France was not to be.
Within the first five minutes, English fans were given cause for celebration when Kieran Trippier scored a free kick, giving his side a dream 1-0 lead.
The crowd in Hyde Park went berserk as England scored, and those watching on the huge screen were drenched in beer as plastic cups flew through the air amid wild celebrations.
But emotions were to change, and fans in Bristol held their heads in their hands and wept following England’s defeat.
Some threw drinks to the ground and stormed out of Ashton Gate Stadium, though some struck a more conciliatory tone.
Josh Quinn, 22, from Bristol, said: “It was a disappointing performance from England.
“The first half was amazing and the second half was terrible. I feel disappointed but proud.”
Max Pemberton, 24, from Gloucester, had worn a waistcoat to watch the match.
“I’m devastated,” he said.
“They have done so well. I’m devastated for them. It is the first time in our lifetime that we have seen a semi final. I really thought we’d see a final though.”
Supporters at Birmingham’s Archway outdoor cinema screen broke into applause for Southgate’s team within a minute of the final whistle.
As some fans sunk to their knees in disappointment, 24-year-old sports coach Jaihon Sedgley said: “I am absolutely gutted but we go again in two years at the next tournament.
“At the end of the day no one expected us to do anything at this World Cup and we got to the semi-final.
“That speaks volumes in itself. You have got to be proud.”
Pockets within the Hyde Park crowd continued to clap and chant but the disappointment was obvious with some people with hands on their heads, tears in their eyes and too upset to talk.
Chris Treloar, 34, said: “I’m absolutely gutted, especially with the way the goal went in. It’s a horrible way to go out of the World Cup.
“It’s been fantastic until now.”
Reiss Malone, 33, said: “Overall you’ve got to look at it, and to get to the semis is a massive achievement and it could be our time in four years.
“But you won’t get a better chance than this to win the Word Cup.”
Nick Branch, 35, joked: “I’m a West Ham fan so I’m used to disappointment.”
But he added: “There’s a lot of positives and I’d like to think this is the start of something good.”
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