Midfielder Eric Dier believes England’s run to the World Cup semi-finals is healing the scars of their humiliating Euro 2016 exit to Iceland – but insists their campaign in Russia cannot be hailed a success yet.
Dier was in Roy Hodgson’s team that went out to minnows Iceland in the last 16 in France and has been involved as Gareth Southgate’s squad prepare to face Croatia in the last four in Moscow on Wednesday.
As England stand only 90 minutes away from their first World Cup final since 1966, Dier said: „After the Iceland game we knew things needed to change and there have been a lot of changes since that moment.
„It was a moment where we knew we were extremely disappointed and we knew we couldn’t let that happen again and we wanted that to change.
„We knew that we could only make amends for that moment here at this World Cup and nothing else would fix what happened then.
„That is what we’ve been trying to do. Two years is a long period. It has been a long process since then and a lot has changed. We’ve put everything in place. We’ve learned from our mistakes, which is the most important thing, and we’ve made things right.
„We’ve seen the way the country has got behind us and the happiness we are giving out and it’s fantastic to be a part of. We’re just really happy. We’re focused on Wednesday because we believe we can continue this great journey.”
England manager Southgate has a fully fit group to choose from as every member of the squad trained on Sunday, with goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and midfielder Jordan Henderson overcoming minor problems.
Southgate is expected to name an unchanged team and Dier believes there is more to come from England.
He said: „I don’t think we’ve succeeded yet. Success is hard to define but in my eyes and in everyone’s else’s eyes back at the hotel this isn’t success yet. We’re hungry for more and we want more.
„Hopefully we can continue to show that on Wednesday. There has been no complacency, no talk of anything else. We are so focused on Wednesday.
„We know there can be even better nights the longer we go into the tournament. We have loved every game but we know there can be more enjoyment to come.”
Dier also launched a passionate defence of forward Raheem Sterling, who has gone 24 games without a goal for England but retains the full faith of manager Southgate.
He said: „The way Raheem has handled everything, from meeting up until now, has been fantastic. His attitude and his work ethic have been fantastic.
„He offers so much to the team. He shows great willingness to make forward runs and has quality in possession. He comes short to link the play, makes runs in behind and his work-rate off the ball is incredible.
„It’s so clear to see if you watch our games how important he is to the team. He’s had a fantastic tournament so far and let’s hope he continues that over the next week.”
Wing-back Ashley Young, meanwhile, believes England have put themselves in a perfect position to have a tilt at giving the country its greatest football moment since winning the World Cup in 1966.
He said: „There was no celebrating after we beat Sweden because we have not won anything yet.
„But we’ve got a great chance. We have put ourselves in a great position to go on and win it. We haven’t come here not to win it.”