KIERAN TRIPPIER still bears the emotional scars of Russia four years ago.
The defender was the last England player to score at the World Cup – but he struggled to concede that crushing 2-1 semi-final defeat to Croatia.
And another heartbreak came last summer when the Three Lions lost the European Championship final to Italy on penalties.
But Newcastle star Trippier is now calculating: “We have 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 after five minutes.
However, the nation was devastated when they failed to complete the game and were eliminated in overtime.
And the 32-year-old right-back admitted: “It’s difficult to let go, I won’t lie if you get beaten in a semi-final when you know you came that close. There’s no point in proving it, but we could have been 3-0 up in the first 45 minutes.
“You just have to forget about resting with your families after the tournament and try to move on as soon as possible.
“That’s long gone. Since then we have all achieved something and we now want to correct that.
“We have reached a final and now we want to go one step further.
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“We know we’re dealing with fantastic nations but we feel we have a very, very good squad to win.”
It seems a long time since “Southgate You’re the One” was the summer soundtrack and the vest-wearing England boss was a national treasure in 2018.
Nobody expected much at the last World Cup, but things seem to have turned since the desperate penalty shoot-out against Italy at Wembley.
England travel to Qatar without a win in six games but Trippier said: “Gareth is a fantastic coach, his record in the semi-finals and final speaks for itself.
“He brought everyone – the fans, the nation – together with the players. He brought this unit back and deserves more respect. When we were in Russia and saw everyone celebrating at home, it was just a good feeling to know that you put a smile on people’s faces.
“Russia was crazy and so were the Euros when they came 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 have to perform to keep bringing those special moments to the fans.”
Trippier grew up with his three older brothers in his back garden pretending to be David Beckham.
This will be the ex-Spurs star’s third major tournament and he looks set to start the opener against Iran.
He’s starting in flying form after guiding Toon to third after a move from Atletico Madrid in January.
He said: “I play the best football of my career.
“I have returned to the Premier League as a more complete player.
“I know I’m 32, but I’m not slowing down. I’m more confident, hungrier – and when you go into a tournament you have to be at a good level, individually and as a collective.”
Trippier buried a penalty for Toon in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup shootout win over Crystal Palace.
And with Southgate looking for penalty 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 there whenever I’m called.”
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/6650852/kieran-trippier-newcastle-world-cup-2018-heartbreak-england/ Kieran Trippier is still struggling to let go of the 2018 World Cup heartache but is certain England can fight for the 2022 crown