England might be out of the World Cup after a heart-breaking semi-final defeat but their players have still been heroes and manager Gareth Southgate has become a national icon.
Southgate entered the tournament as a bit of a second-choice boss following the sacking of Sam Allardyce. He was supposedly in charge of a team of inexperienced no-hopers.
However, his man-management, modesty and overall nice-guy approach has seen Southgate heralded as a hero and people are calling for him to receive a knighthood after England reached a first semi-final in the World Cup since 1990. He has restored faith in England's national football... and let's not forget that waistcoat.
And, you know what? Why not?
It might not be coming home but it is in our hearts. Can't be anything but proud of this squad for giving it their all, the best we've played in decades. Gareth Southgate needs a knighthood:clap::flag_black: #England
- Emily (@wnterstilinski) July 11, 2018
Still feel Gareth Southgate deserves a bloody knighthood :flag_black::heart:
- JJ (@jamesjjordan) July 11, 2018
Petition to give Gareth Southgate a knighthood
- Crowther (@ncrowther89) July 11, 2018
England's manager, who didn't set the world alight as a club boss, has made himself a legend through the tournament following amazing performances by his players on the road to the semi-finals.
He was the mastermind behind a first penalty shoot-out win in a tournament since 1996 as Colombia were beaten in the last 16 while Tunisia, Panama, and Sweden were also sent packing at different stages in the competition.
Southgate got the best out of the likes of Harry Kane, Jordan Henderson, Jordan Pickford and Harry Maguire among England's beaten heroes but they just came up a bit short against a tough Croatia side.
That, and Southgate's matey, composed personality, is why England's fans are still loving the effort that he put in through the tournament and even think the Queen should be looking to make him Sir Gareth.
Get Gareth Southgate a knighthood x
- Georgia Bellamy (@_georgiab) July 11, 2018
deffo a knighthood for Gareth Southgate
- tony sallis (@tonysallisfsmai) July 11, 2018
Things we want when they come home: a knighthood for Southgate, a victory parade all over England for how far the team has come and the golden glove for Pickford :trophy::soccer::heart:
- katy (@Katy_Chapman) July 11, 2018
England had taken the lead in the semi-final in Moscow through Kieran Trippier's early free-kick but Croatia hit back in the second half through Perisic and Mandzukic.
It might not be coming home but everyone in the England squad restored national pride and will come back to a hero's welcome, and they could yet finish third when Saturday's play-off against Belgium is over.
Southgate will now be hot property in the Premier League but he has said that he will stick with England as they now look ahead to the European Championship in 2020. I know that was then, but it could be again.