Ashley Young has expressed his dismay at missing out on playing in the World Cup final following Wednesday night’s semi-final defeat to Croatia.
The 33-year-old begun the game well as England took an early lead, handling the ball with maturity and keeping the dangerous Ante Rebic quiet.
But he eventually lost his rhythm in the second half and found himself overwhelmed by a resurgent Croatia attack spearheaded by Luka Modric, and was taken off at full-time.
Young took to social media after the game, noting he was “absolutely gutted” to miss out on the biggest game football has to offer.
ABSOLUTELY GUTTED😢💔 Can’t thank you fans here in Russia and of course back home enough for all the support you have given us. Sorry we couldn’t get over that line. pic.twitter.com/NnfDuaCFEN
— Ashley Young (@youngy18) July 12, 2018
England blew it. Their run to the semi-final deserves enormous credit and nobody should have any complaints, but nonetheless they blew this game.
For an hour this game was in their pocket. All they needed to do was hold on for, say, ten or fifteen minutes, by which point Croatia would have started to scramble for a goal. Long balls up the pitch, players out of position, a sense of frenzy emblematic of a side throwing the kitchen sink at a situation.
But instead England allowed Croatia to dictate the game. It was as if they were so enamoured by the prospect of reaching the final that they forgot to stick to their job in that midpoint of the second half.
It was a lesson to be learned, above all. Nobody expected England to get that far. Nobody expected Young to be there, either. Regardless of how it ended, Young’s story is one anybody can take inspiration from: that no matter how written off you may be, there is always a chance.