Croatia defender Dejan Lovren believes that he deserves to be recognised as one of the game’s outstanding centre-backs.
Although pinpointed as a weak link for Liverpool this season, the former Southampton and Lyon man helped the Reds to the Champions League final, where they were beaten by Real Madrid, but another shot at glory presents itself on Sunday in the World Cup final.
Lovren and his Croatia team-mate held off England in Moscow on Wednesday, winning 2-1 in extra-time to book a date with France.
And he says that his performances should shut his critics up.
“People said I had a difficult season but I don’t agree with that,” he told beIN Sport. “I showed why I took Liverpool to the final of the Champions League and now with the national team, and now I’m in the World Cup final. I think people should recognise that I’m one of the best defenders in the world.”
Meanwhile, he had high praise for international team-mate Luka Modric.
“Modric is the best middle three player in the world and if we win this World Cup, he deserves the Ballon d’Or,” he said.
Croatia seemed on the ropes when Kieran Trippier gave England an early lead, but they hit back in the second half through Ivan Perisic before grabbing a winner in extra-time through Mario Mandzukic.
“It was quite tough first half, we couldn’t control the ball and they had good chances” he admitted. “In the second half we were much better, we found space on the side and put in good crosses. Then in extra-time, we showed we still had the energy to play our game.
Speaking of the experience as a whole, Lovren says it is one that the tiny European nation will always remember.
“This is something we’ll never forget. This is historical for us. People are crying in our country,” he said before reflecting upon their 1998 semi-final loss to France.
“We’ve had this weight on our shoulders for 20 years. Now we’ve got a chance to do something better on Sunday.”