Harry Maguire has been one of the standout players for England during this World Cup. Photo: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

Steven Gerrard says England deserve a heroes’ reception when they return from the World Cup and admits Gareth Southgate’s men did better than his golden generation ever managed.

The Rangers manager, who captained his country in 38 matches, watched on Wednesday as England’s journey came to an end after defeat to Croatia in the semi-finals. And Gerrard who made it to the quarter-finals in 2006, said: ‘I’m gutted for the players and I’m gutted for Gareth because, as everyone knows, it was an incredible opportunity to go to a World Cup final.

‘Having reflected on it for 24 hours, you can be nothing but proud of the players and the coaching staff. They did an awful lot better than I ever did, or we ever did.

‘All I can do is tip my hat and congratulate them. They deserve a hell of a reception when they return and let’s hope it’s the start of something big for them.

‘I was mightily impressed by them. Yes, we got a bit of luck with the draw and came up against teams we proved to be better than.

‘But in the end Croatia were a little bit too good and had a little bit too much in the tank. We can’t be critical of what they’ve done, they were absolutely superb.’

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