FORMER England defender Martin Keown has urged Gareth Southgate's men to play without fear tonight and backed them to book a place in the World Cup final.

The 51-year-old, who was born in Oxford on the day England last won a World Cup semi final in 1966, said the players must embrace the occasion.

"My message to the players would be to love it and relish it - the opportunity is there.

"There's nothing worse than playing with fear, they have to enjoy it.

"They've trained all their lives for this, it's their moment to create history, a lifetime of glory awaits."

Keown, who played for England 43 times and went to two World Cups, will be commentating on Sunday's final whether England make it or not.

But he believes Southgate's men can beat Croatia.

He said: "I've been locked in a room for two days watching Croatia play - I've only left for meals and to do TV or radio work - I think we can beat them.

"They struggled against Denmark and Russia and needed penalties on both occasions.

"But they have some very talented players and if they realise Modric should be playing higher up, we could be in trouble."

He added: "I've been all over Russia in my commentary role, to Ekaterinburg, Rostov, Samara, Kaliningrad, Volgograd and of course Moscow.

"The warmth we have received from the Russian people has been astonishing."