It was a herculean effort as Croatia came back from a goal down to beat England 2-1 and progress to its first FIFA World Cup final. The Croatian fightback started with Ivan Perisic's goal in the 68th minute.
He was there again playing the final pass for Mario Mandzukic's winner which came in the 109th minute. Perisic, visibly pleased with one of the best night's of his career, said: "It was a very difficult game and we know what was at stake and how important a semifinal is for our small country. We showed our intent after starting slowly. We were never this resilient and my goal was important as we were dominating and needed something to show for it."
Thanking the team's traveling fans, Perisic added: "We have qualified for the first time and I will like to thank whoever was here and the people back home."
The Croatian winger was just nine when the team reached the 1998 World Cup semifinals, only to lose to France, its opponent in this year's final. "Twenty years ago I was back in Split, my hometown. I wore the Croatia jersey and cheered for the team. Now, it's dream to play for my country and score to take us to the final," he said.
The 29-year-old spent his early professional years in France with Souchaux and still has fond memories about the place. "Initially, I didn't know why I went to France when I was 17. There was some family problem, some financial issue and I went to Souchaux. I learnt French and I have beautiful memories as I trained with the first team," he said.
VIEW| In pictures: CRO vs ENG
He also added that his mother had dreamt about a France-Croatia final: "Nobody can be happier to play them in the final. My mother said she dreamt Croatia and France will play the final and her dream has come true. Let's see who wins."
The player, however, is aware of the threats the opposition has and said: "We saw all of France's group games and they have upped their game since then. France played a defensive game to beat Belgium. They have players from top clubs and a great coach."
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