first_imgSign up for the World Cup Fiver. Topics World Cup Share on WhatsApp England Share on Facebook Trevor Steven is one of only 23 Englishmen to play in a World Cup semi-final and he paints a vivid picture of what Gareth Southgate’s side can expect against Croatia in Moscow on Wednesday night.“It’s like an out-of-body experience,” says Steven, who faced West Germany at Italia 90 on 4 July in Turin. Bobby Robson’s men drew 1-1 but after extra time suffered the heartache of defeat on penalties to begin a dire sequence of three such exits in four World Cups, as England’s 1998 and 2006 tournaments ended this way. Southgate’s side broke the hoodoo in their last-16 win against Colombia and they are only the third England team to reach the last four of the tournament, with Sir Alf Ramsey’s 1966 victors the sole finalists.Steven says: “It’s an opportunity to reach a World Cup final, a dream for a football player. Everybody wanted to play, be a starter. Training was very intense, we had to try and treat it like another match but it’s very difficult to do that.”Of how Harry Kane and company will be feeling Steven says: “Very thrilled and excited. The fact was we could get to a World Cup final, which for any English player you are going down in history. Even to get to the semi-final [in 1990] – not having got into one for 24 years – was already a massive achievement.”So, too, for Southgate’s team who will breach a 28-year gap to Robson’s vintage when walking out at the Luzhniki Stadium. Their five‑game run to this stage has taken in 2-1 and 6-1 wins against Tunisia and Panama respectively, plus a 1-0 defeat against Belgium in Group G. After a 1-1 draw Colombia were defeated 4-3 on penalties. Then, in England’s finest display, Sweden were downed 2-0 to set up the semi‑final with Croatia.To reach their semi-final Robson’s team drew 1-1 with Republic of Ireland and 0-0 with the Netherlands before beating Egypt 1-0 to top Group F. Belgium were dispatched 1-0 in the last 16 before Cameroon were knocked out 3-2, both of these ties being won in extra time.Steven, who came on after 70 minutes for Terry Butcher, Robson’s captain, and Dave Beasant, a reserve goalkeeper, point to parallels between the man-management of Robson and Southgate and the mood of each squad. “Bobby was great. His greatest strength was keeping the mood right,” Steven says. “It had been a bit turbulent going into the World Cup, because Bobby was going to PSV Eindhoven [afterwards] and we’d got a lot of stick at the start of the competition. The England squad pose for a photo before the third place play-off with Italy in Bari. Photograph: Bob Thomas/Getty Images Pinterest World Cup 2018 Read more Twitter England faced West Germany at the now demolished Stadio delle Alpi. “It was huge, absolutely huge,” says Steven. “We had lots of family over – everybody wanted to be there. The atmosphere was electric. They were favourites to beat us because of the record books, plus they had such a strong side.“It’s an unbelievable experience to have the three lions on the shirt and represent your country – the whole country, the whole world, is watching. But you have to put all of those things to the back of your head, try and attain your personal levels.”Franz Beckenbauer’s team were led by Lothar Matthäus and featured Jürgen Klinsmann. Andreas Brehme’s deflected 60th-minute free-kick beat Peter Shilton before Gary Lineker’s equaliser 10 minutes from the end forced extra time and then the shootout.The misses by Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle became embedded in English football conscience, a spectre that hovered until Eric Dier beat Colombia’s David Ospina at the Spartak Stadium last week for England’s first World Cup shootout victory.Steven, a career penalty taker, offers insight into what any player required to take one on Wednesday may go through. “The takers were guys who started,” says Steven of Lineker, Peter Beardsley, David Platt, Pearce and Waddle. “I was getting to the point where it could have been me next – Bobby had not made up his mind.“It was: ‘Oh God, this is such a pressurised situation, it could be you next up to that penalty spot – will I walk there or will I jog?’ It was surreal watching the guys one by one taking the penalties. I felt for them. You just don’t want to be the one who let’s their team down, their country. Anybody can miss.” Steven recalls the feeling of defeat. “On the field absolute devastation emotionally,” he says. “We felt so badly for who’d not scored. I don’t know how they must’ve felt to have that forever around their necks. When we got back into the dressing room, it was heartache, everybody consoling each other.“But what can you do? It’s gone. The moment has gone, you can’t get it back. It’s difficult to put a jar on the emotions – we were so proud of what we’d done and yet one of the biggest regrets you can have as a player is not getting to the final. We could’ve won it and that would have been life-changing.”center_img Why Italia 90 was not beautiful to everyone, but will always be special features Share on Messenger Matthew Engel Share on Pinterest “Yet the mood was absolutely fantastic – a togetherness, just like the team has today, we were a more experienced group of players than the current group so that probably helped us. This group, though, they don’t have any fear at all, which is great.”Beasant highlights the potency of team spirit by referring to his time at Wimbledon, during which Liverpool were defeated in the 1988 FA Cup final and the team was branded the Crazy Gang.He says: “A truly united side can give an extra percentage of performance. At Wimbledon we didn’t think we had a star. Even if someone came in for big money they weren’t the star. We knew that as a team we were good and strong, so the team is a massive thing and [fostering this] is one of the many things that Gareth has done superbly well.” Share on Twitter Italia 90: the World Cup when England rediscovered football Share on LinkedIn Share via Email Facebook Reuse this content Read morelast_img

Losing a World Cup semi-final: ‘One of the biggest regrets you can have as a player’

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