Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic says football is “coming home very soon” after backing England for success in the near future.
Dalic was the man who ended England’s World Cup dream in the summer when he led his country past the Three Lions in the semi-finals.
Croatia looked like handing down more disappointment on Sunday when they were 12 minutes away from sending England out of the Nations League as they led the winner-takes-all clash at Wembley through Andrej Kramaric’s opener.
But late goals from Jesse Lingard and Harry Kane earned England some World Cup redemption and sent them through to the Nations League Finals next summer.
Although they left it late, Gareth Southgate’s men were worthy of their win as they backed up the impressive victory in Spain last month with a superb first-half showing, suggesting they are heading towards the top of the game.
After answering his post-match press conference questions in Croatian, Dalic ended proceedings by switching to English to declare: “It’s coming home, very soon.”
He earlier said in Croatian: “I think England showed already at the World Cup.
“They, I think, exceeded expectations. They have a really young and very fast team, which is very important in modern football.
“I’d like to congratulate England on a deserved win and for qualifying for the final four of the Nations League.
“We didn’t play very well in the first half and we were a little bit lucky to get into half-time at 0-0.
“I’m not very sad. We played as men. I am proud of my team and I congratulated them on their performance.”
It has not taken England fans long to start believing again as a sell-out Wembley blared out the Lightning Seeds’ Three Lions anthem after the win.
Plenty was said over the summer about the perceived English fans’ arrogance in their assertion football was coming home, with Croatia admitting to getting extra motivation from it, but midfielder Luka Modric was not bothered by the song this time.
“We just said how we felt at the World Cup and that is it, we don’t need to go back and talk about this,” he said.
“That is it, it is finished. This is a new game and we don’t need to look back and make more comments about it. For me, it is the same, I don’t care.
“We said what we meant and how we felt and that is it. I don’t want to change what we said because we felt that way.
“But no matter, between players and teams it is huge respect. I don’t want to talk anymore. We respect England, they respect us. It didn’t mean (previous comments criticising England etc) about players and coaches, I mean people around England.”