Southgate said he was convinced that win or lose on Wednesday, his team have a bright future after decades of English under-achievement on the global stage.
England will seek to reach their first World Cup final since 1966 when they lock horns with a talented Croatia team on Wednesday for the right to play France for the trophy. "So we won't win the game just because Croatia had half an hour more football than us three days ago, we've got to win because we play better". "We're really proud in the style that we've played, with the intelligence that we've played, and that we've performed under pressure and dealt with hard situations in games where we've had to wait until the last minute to score, we've had to recover from conceding in last minute, we've been through extra time, penalties". "I think with the energy, the organisation, the confidence at the moment, England are a force".
With an average age of 26, England is one of the youngest teams at the World Cup.
"Finals have to be won because we have still not got over the one we lost two years ago", he said.
England, who made an early impression with a 6-1 crushing of Panama in the group stage, then overcame their shootout hoodoo in beating Colombia in the last-16 and looked composed and mature in the 2-0 quarter-final victory over Sweden.
"I'm a little bit anxious about Harry Kane".
But each team has more than just historical precedent to play for.
However, in Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, Croatia have two of the best midfielders in the world and should provide England with their hardest test yet.
While England enjoyed a relatively stress-free 2-0 win over Sweden in the last eight, Croatia had to come through a grueling extra time against hosts Russian Federation and then a penalty shootout. In fact, that remains Croatia's only defeat in eight World Cup matches against a European side.
"The biggest thing that the gaffer's brought since he's come in, which he's brought right from day one, was identity, and about the way that we wanted to create a team, " Henderson said.
"This team is nowhere near the level they´re going to be capable of, partly because of their age and partly because over the next few years, with us and with their clubs, they´re going to have more and more big-match experiences".
"The enthusiasm they have for these players, not only because of the way they've played but how they've conducted themselves.they've been brilliant ambassadors for our country, everybody can see they are proud to wear the shirt".