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"I sincerely hope that this message will not be understood as anything else but an expression of gratitude to our friends in Ukraine for their support", Vida said.

"It's something, for me, special".

"People said I had a hard season but I don't agree with that", he tsaid.

Lovren will be granted an extended break after Sunday's final against France and report back to Liverpool in close proximity to the start of the Premier League campaign on August 12.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp endorsed Dejan Lovren's assessment of himself as one of the world's top defenders despite joking it was hardly an objective opinion.

"I have problems with my whole body for the last two weeks, my back and now I have hurt my Achilles tendon", Lovren told the Croatian paper Sportske Novosti.

His family eventually settled back in Croatia and the Liverpool defender believes a tough upbringing and fierce desire to make the nation of just over four million people proud are key motivating factors. Holding England to nothing more than a free kick goal over the course of 120 minutes was no small feat, to be sure.

France, who beat Belgium in their semi-final, have a population 16 times that of Croatia, and Lovren has rather eloquently summed up his country's tumultuous history.

The defender will start Sunday's World Cup final against France but he raised several eyebrows earlier this week when he demanded more respect for his abilities. While most of the betting market will side with the French, GamblingSitesOnline.org has great United Kingdom gambling site recommendations, Croatia have shown that they can never truly be counted out.

However, last season the former Southampton and Lyon man helped Liverpool to the Champions League final where they lost to Real Madrid. Not since Uruguay's win in 1950 has a country of so few people reached a World Cup final.

"This is something we'll never forget", he said.

Croatia will now lock horns with France in the World Cup final on July 15. We've had this weight on our shoulders for 20 years. We will never forget this.

If Lovren and his team-mates can control Mbappe and manage the alternative threats of Olivier Giroud and Antoine Griezmann on Sunday in Moscow, Croatia will have a genuine chance of pulling off a victory.