Ashley Young explains how England will reach the World Cup final

by Leo Nieboer

Ashley Young has emphasised that remaining focused would be key for England ahead of their historic World Cup semi-final meeting with Croatia in Moscow on Wednesday night.

The 33-year-old produced an indomitable, efficient display on the left hand side during England’s remarkably comfortable 2-0 quarter-final win over Sweden last Saturday.

England are in the semi-final for the first time since 1990 and have the chance to write some serious history by doing what no team before them has ever managed – reach a World Cup final on foreign soil.

Speaking ahead of the clash, Young – a welcome voice of maturity and reason – has made it clear that Gareth Southgate’s team need to remain focused above anything when it comes to reaching the final.

“We are concentrating on what’s going on now,” he said. “Not what’s happened in the past. We’re looking forward to the future.”

“We haven’t won anything yet so there’s no point in celebrating, obviously it was nice to get the victory but I think those celebrations against Sweden were muted because we know there are still big games to come.

“There’s a lot to play for and I’ve said all along the team spirit we’ve got here has been fantastic and I think you see the way we celebrated after the game – we get ourselves back to the hotel, recover, prepare in the right way and go for the next game.”

Young, along with Jesse Lingard and to a lesser extent Marcus Rashford, could lose against Croatia and retire the next day, and still have their place in the canon of English football history guaranteed, such is the enormity of what they have achieved.

For the first time since 1996 – before this writer was even born – this country has fallen in love with its football team. They have fundamentally altered the nature of English football forever. And many people who experienced this wonderful summer, even those who actively don’t like football, will be able to recite the entire team long after Young and Lingard have retired.

That alone is truly special, and something the pair can be extremely proud of.

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