When Dejan Lovren emerged from the dressing room after Croatia vanquished England in Luzhniki Stadium, his head was held high, his eyes peering through a battery of journalists in the Mixed Zone.
It was the sort of ‘yes I am here look’ as journalists jostled for positions with their outstretched microphones.
It is not often that you get some of these egoistic football stars willing to talk to the media, even in victory.
Here was the Liverpool defender, who in no small part accounted for the shutting down of the English ‘It is coming home’ rhetoric, as England ramped up talk of a Fifa World Cup for the first time since 1966.
Inside the Mixed Zone, towering Lovren took a deep breath looking beyond the microphones, perhaps surveying the faces of assembled journalists for traces of disappointed English press.
“All we need is respect,” Lovren began after he was asked what the victory over England meant and now that they are in an unlikely final.
“Before this game, everything was about England. But after this game we have shown that we have the character, we are in the final and people should respect us,” Lovren said looking straight into the eye of his interlocutor.
He went on, leaning slightly towards the interviewer most probably an Englishman judging from his accent: “Especially about the English press. From the beginning, I feel it is unfair like in my case people writing things even after I helped Liverpool to the final of the Champions League, and today we are in the final of the World Cup.”
“I think people should recognise that I am also one of the best defenders in the world and not just talk nonsense.”
“And three times we have played 120 minutes and today we had fresher legs than England.
“We were mentally stronger because we knew we could write history and we did it,” Lovren said.
“I am sure people around the world and in Croatia have seen we have made history.
The Liverpool defender was unhappy with a question the English press had asked him, the day before, what he remembers about the 4-1 loss to Tottenham now that he was going to face Harry Kane.
“I really don’t understand why the English press would look back to mistakes I made, but whatever I don’t understand we are in the final,” Lovren, 29, said even as he praised his Liverpool teammates whom he said also deserved to be in the final.
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