For England fans across the country, the summer of 2018 was one filled with anticipation, joy and heartbreak, and all three emotions peaked during the semi-final with Croatia.
For one man in particular, that night will live long in the memory. Five minutes into the game, with bums barely on seats back home, Kieran Trippier stepped up to take a free-kick from 25 yards out. The Tottenham man duly swept his country into the lead in their first World Cup semi-final since Italia 90, with the whole nation launching their pints into the air in unison.
The now 28-year-old’s strike could hardly have been better placed and had the pace to fly past the Croatian wall, giving Danijel Subasic in goal no chance. As it hit the back of the net it felt like football truly was coming home.
Unfortunately for the Three Lions, it wasn’t to be in the Luzhniki Stadium that night as Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic ensured that Croatia progressed through to the final, where they were eventually thumped by France.
The sense of pride was still palpable across the nation for the next few weeks, but since being back at Spurs things have come crashing down to earth for the man christened as the ‘Bury Beckham’ during the summer.
This week, the former Barnsley and Burnley man has had to pull out of the England squad with a groin injury, meaning there will be no repeat of his World Cup heroics when Gareth Southgate’s side take on Croatia in the UEFA Nations League on Sunday.
This injury comes as little surprise after the amount of football Trippier played in the summer before coming almost immediately back into the Tottenham side, and a number of Spurs players have suffered similar setbacks after reaching the final weekend of the tournament in Russia.
However, it isn’t just physically that Trippier is struggling with the after-effects of the summer. Having starred in Southgate’s wing-back role, the former Manchester City trainee has clearly found it difficult to adapt to playing in a back four under Mauricio Pochettino again.
For England, Trippier was given license to bomb forward and he could rely on former Spurs man Kyle Walker behind him to sweep anything up.
In the Premier League this season though Trippier has made a couple of notable errors that we haven’t seen from him before. For example, just recently against Manchester City his missed header allowed Raheem Sterling to race in behind the Spurs defence and pull the ball back for Riyad Mahrez to score at Wembley.
Then, in the away win at Wolves, Trippier attempted a Cruyff turn on the corner of his own box, a poor idea at the best of times. When the England hero lost the ball it put youngster Juan Foyth under pressure and the Premier League debutant gave away a penalty.
Whether this is thanks to a change of mindset after the World Cup or simply a lack of time off, once he is back from injury Trippier will have to get his head down if he is to convince Pochettino and Southgate that he is worthy of keeping the first choice right-back slot for both club and country.