England manager Gareth Southgate says winning the World Cup would make his players even bigger heroes than the 1966 generation because of the impact of social media and the globalisation of football.
Southgate’s men meet Croatia in the semi-finals on Wednesday after ending a 28-year wait just to reach the last four by cruising past Sweden in the quarter-finals.
“I’ve met quite a few of those players and we know exactly how they’re held and perhaps, in the modern era, that would be even crazier,” Southgate told Britain’s daily newspapers.
“Social media and everything else, the global thing is so much bigger.”
While the England players are tucked away in a sleepy training base in the remote town of Repino, 45 kilometres (28 miles) northwest of Saint Petersburg, football fever is sweeping the nation back home.
Nearly 20 million viewers tuned in for the win over Sweden and social media is awash with videos of excited fans watching on big screens in bars and parks, fanatically celebrating every England goal.