England take on Denmark at Wembley on Wednesday night.
Kieran Trippier looks back on England’s World Cup semi-final exit without any sense of regret and is instead focused on demonstrating the progress they have made since then by sealing a place in the Euro 2020 final.
The 30-year-old’s free-kick had the nation dreaming of reaching a first major tournament final since 1966, only for Croatia to turn things around and snatch a 2-1 extra-time win at the Luzhniki in 2018.
It was England’s third major tournament semi-final loss since lifting the World Cup and Gareth Southgate’s side have the opportunity to end that hoodoo against Denmark at a rocking Wembley on Wednesday.
“No regrets,” Trippier said of the 2018 World Cup run. “The past is in the past.
“We are in a position now where we just want to create our own history. That’s all we want to do.
“But I think from the two years the team has changed a lot.
“There are only maybe six or seven of us from the World Cup team. We’ve got so much good young talent.
“It is there for everyone to see the attacking players we’ve got. I think we’ve taken that step forward from 2018.
“The Nations League we were in the semi-final and now we are playing Denmark.
“I feel we’ve made a real good progression over the years.”
Trippier says that development “comes from Gareth”, who called the LaLiga-winning Atletico Madrid right-back one of his “tribal elders” ahead of the Euro 2020 semi-final.
The squad are keeping himself busy ahead of facing Denmark and the 30-year-old is avoiding the group showings of Love Island – “I can’t stand the show!” he said – as a calm focus falls upon the camp.
“I wasn’t nervous,” he said of the World Cup. “Even in the semi-final against Croatia I wasn’t nervous.
“I don’t get nervous before games, it’s more I can’t wait to get going. I wouldn’t say it’s nerves.
“It’s more I’ve played in a lot of big games now, so when I come into semi-finals it’s just excitement. You are seeing the place, you are seeing the whole nation.
“Everyone is buzzing and it’s just good to see smiles on everyone’s faces and after the year-and-a-half that we’ve all had it’s good to them all smiling again.
“It is good for us players, staff to see everybody enjoying themselves.”
The feelgood factor looked to have been added to on Monday by some treats, with a few ice cream vans seen entering St George’s Park as Trippier spoke to reporters.
The spirit within the camp has been noticeable throughout the competition, particularly when Ed Sheeran dropped into the training base after the group stage.
“Ed Sheeran comes in, all the boys are buzzing, we’re all singing with him and having a good time and it brings you all together,” said Trippier, who brushed aside transfer talk as links with a move to Manchester United persist.
“Then we play Germany and we’re fantastic, we play Ukraine and the lads did unbelievable again and we have another big task against Denmark in front of us.”
Wednesday’s semi-final opponents have been brought together by far more distressing circumstances after Christian Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest in their opening game.
Southgate said Denmark were “riding a wave of emotion” into the semi-final, when Eriksen’s former team-mate at Tottenham Harry Kane will present Denmark captain Simon Kjaer with a signed England ‘Eriksen 10’ shirt.
Trippier, another former team-mate of Eriksen, said: “We were on the coach, before the Croatia game. We saw it on the screens.
“It’s just important that he is here with us. He’s getting better, he’s making progress.
“It’s just hard to put into words because I’ve played with him. I was close with Christian.
“The most important thing is he is getting better. I messaged him. I didn’t do it straight away, I messaged him through social media.
“This is the time to give him privacy, with his family and his children. We just want him to make progress in his recovery.”