Gareth Southgate says England can become immortal like 1966 heroes

David Beckham and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2013

"The consistent comparisons and messages I receive from friends all came about since Harry Kane's success at Tottenham over the past two years, and especially this World Cup".

As if there wasn't already enough riding on tomorrow's World Cup quarter-final, David Beckham and Zlatan Ibrahimovic just upped the stakes even more.

Southgate admitted he had used the high esteem in which the 1966 team - featuring Bobby Charlton and Bobby Moore - are still held as an inspiration for his players.

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"We've talked, touched briefly, certainly, on the team which won [in 1966]", he said. "How they're still held and revered", he added. At the beginning of working together with the lads and trying to sell them the vision of what's possible, what we're looking to achieve in the long-term.

"It's unbelievable to meet any heroes from '66 and it gives you so much inspiration, obviously it's been a long time since England have done well in a major tournament", he said.

"We did have a north v south game at The Grove - what I can remember is we had a dodgy ref who was southern in Steve (Holland), which didn't help the northerners", the Sheffield-born defender told Sky News Radio.

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"100 per cent I think you can see that in the way that we play, everybody, the whole 23, willing to put everything aside, whatever their personal interests might be, purely for the team to be successful", he said.

"You obviously have got your family at home and the kids that you need to keep in touch with, keep checking in or the missus might go mad. We are one step closer to what is the biggest game in football as a professional".

Croatia identify England danger man for semi-final
Yet the performances of Gareth Southgate's squad - the second youngest at the tournament - are being celebrated wildly back home. England achieved something David Beckham's generation never managed: It reached the semifinals of the World Cup .

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