Kieran Trippier still struggling to let go of World Cup 2018 heartbreak but is sure England can challenge for 2022 crown

    KIERAN TRIPPIER still bears the mental scars from Russia four years ago.

    The defender was the last England player to score at the World Cup — but has struggled to let that crushing 2-1 semi-final defeat to Croatia go.

    Kieran Trippier scored a brilliant free-kick in England's World Cup semi-final defeat to Croatia in 2018.

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    Kieran Trippier scored a brilliant free-kick in England’s World Cup semi-final defeat to Croatia in 2018.Credit: The Mega Agency

    And further heartbreak came last summer when the Three Lions lost the Euros final to Italy on penalties.

    But Newcastle star Trippier now reckons: “We’ve got the squad to go one step further in Qatar.”

    England had one foot in the 2018 final when Trippier’s stunning free-kick put Gareth Southgate’s boys ahead five minutes in.

    Yet the nation was left devastated as they failed to kill the game off and were knocked out in extra-time.

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    And the right-back, 32, admitted: “It’s difficult to let go, I’m not going to lie, getting beat in a semi-final when you know you were so close. There is no point to prove but we could have been 3-0 up in the first 45 minutes.

    “You just need to forget about it, have your rest with your families after the tournament and try and move on as quickly as possible.

    “That’s long gone. We’ve all achieved things since then and now we want to put that right.

    “We’ve made a final and now we want to go one step further.

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    “We know we’re up against fantastic nations but we feel we’ve got a very, very good squad to go and win.”

    It feels like a long time ago now since ‘Southgate You’re the One’ was the summer soundtrack and the waistcoat-wearing England boss was a national treasure in 2018.

    Nobody expected much at the last World Cup but the tide seems to have turned since shootout despair against the Italians at Wembley.

    England head to Qatar without a win in six but Trippier said: “Gareth is a fantastic manager, the record of semi-final and final speaks for itself.

    “He’s brought everyone — the fans, the nation — together with the players. He’s brought that unity back and he deserves more respect. When we were in Russia and saw everyone back home celebrating, it’s just a good feeling knowing you are putting smiles on people’s faces.

    “Russia was crazy, and the Euros as well, coming out of St George’s Park on the bus and there were thousands of people there.

    “It was goosebumps… the first final since 1966.

    “It means a lot to us but ultimately we need to perform to keep bringing those special moments to supporters.”

    Trippier grew up pretending to be David Beckham in his back garden with his three older brothers.

    This will be the ex-Spurs star’s third major tournament and he looks set to start the opener against Iran.

    He goes into it in flying form having led Toon up to third after a January move from Atletico Madrid.

    He said: “I’m playing the best football of my career.

    “I’ve come back to the Premier League a more complete player.

    “I know I’m 32 but I’m not slowing down. I’m more confident, hungrier — and, going into a tournament, you need to be at a good level, individually and as a collective.”

    Trippier buried a penalty for Toon in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup shootout win against Crystal Palace.

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    And if Southgate is looking for spot-kick heroes over the next five weeks, the defender insisted: “I’m confident, I don’t feel any pressure.

    “The manager knows me, he doesn’t need to ask. If the team needs me, I’ll be ready whenever called upon.”

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