Luka Modric accused the English media of underestimating Croatia after their 2-1 World Cup semifinal victory on Wednesday evening.
Kieran Trippier gave England an early lead only for Ivan Perisic to equalise in the 68th minute and Mario Mandzukic to score the winner in the second period of extra time.
The victory sent Croatia into their first-ever World Cup final, where they will meet France on Sunday.
“We proved everything differently that people were talking,” Modric told ITV. “Especially English journalists, pundits from television, they underestimated Croatia tonight and that was a huge mistake.
“All these words from them we take, we were reading and we were saying ‘OK, today we will see who will be tired.’ As I said, they should be more humble, and respect opponents more. That’s it.
“We showed again that we were not tired, we dominated the game physically, mentally in all aspects. We should have killed the game before extra time, but this is an amazing achievement for us, a dream come true.
“After such a long time we are in the final, the biggest success in Croatian sporting history. We have to be proud.”
Asked later about his chances of winning the Ballon d’Or, he said: “I am just concerned with the team, with success for Croatia. That is most important for me. I cannot talk about the rest. We will see what happens, but success for Croatia the most important.
“We are playing a strong team [France], for sure, with top players. We expect the most difficult game of this World Cup. But we are also strong and we will give everything, leave our hearts and souls on the pitch, as in every game. We will give everything and see what happens.”
Defender Sime Vrsaljko, who was an injury doubt before the game but played the full 120 minutes, was critical of England’s style of play.
“The all-round perception was that this is a new-look England who have changed their ways of punting long balls upfield but when we pressed them it turned out that they haven’t,” Vrsaljko said.