England have been told “don’t live with regret”, with Michael Owen looking to the class of 2018 to avoid the “what ifs” which clouded his World Cup career.
They were, however, to endure several demoralising defeats on the grandest of stages, with European Championship and World Cup heartache suffered under the weight of intense expectation.
England’s class of 2018 have been freed of that pressure and performed admirably on Russian soil this summer, with Owen calling on Gareth Southgate’s side to make the most of a favourable draw and ensure that they head home free of any thoughts regarding what could have been.
He wrote in a column for the Daily Mail: “I would say to the likes of Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Raheem Sterling and the rest of the squad: take this opportunity. Don't live with regret.
“Some of these players, like that trio, will probably get the chance to play in another World Cup. But you never know.
“Certainly for many of the squad there won't be another chance to play in a tournament that only comes around every four years. And they certainly are unlikely ever to be in a World Cup draw like this again.
“They're playing with confidence and style. Take that out on to the pitch against Colombia. Seize this moment and play with the flair we know that you have.
“England have a huge chance now in this tournament. That's not to say that they yet have a huge chance of winning it. But there is an opportunity to flourish and go deep into the tournament.
“I spend plenty of time thinking about 'what ifs' when looking back on my England career. Over the next week, this team can ensure they don't have to live with that when they're retired.”
England are set to face Colombia at the last 16 stage in Russia, with the quarter-finals set to deliver a meeting with either Switzerland or Sweden.
If the Three Lions are to make it that far, then talismanic skipper Harry Kane will likely have to add to the five goals he has already delivered, with the Tottenham striker proving to a global audience that he is one of the best players on the planet.
Owen added on a fellow frontman: “Now the rest of the world is realising what we've all known for a few seasons: Harry Kane really is a world-class finisher.
“Your brain panics when you know there's a good opportunity. Your heart beats faster and your breath shortens. All of which causes you to tense up.
“That's the difference between Sterling, who will chip in with goals, and Kane, who is natural finisher and scores 30 a season.”