Croatia, with a population of just 4.17 million, booked their place in the July 15 final at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium by beating England at the same venue 2-1 after extra time on Wednesday night.
The victory improves Croatia's previous best showing at the World Cup, which ended in a 1998 semifinal loss to the host French.
The two were seen reuniting after the game, kissing and embracing among empty seats, later joined by family members.
Boss Gareth Southgate finds himself readying his England team for Saturday's third-placed play-off with Belgium in St Petersburg.
"Many of our players have come of age on the global stage".
"We're here to improve every time we play", he continued. Mistakes were always going to happen but I think to be a top team you have got to play in that style".
Fans packed into Manchester's Castlefield Bowl Arena for last night's game
'It's really painful at the moment but I'm proud of the players, the way we played and the strides they've taken, ' said Southgate.
Southgate and his players have been hailed back home after reaching the last four for the first time since 1990, and for bringing together a nation bitterly divided over Brexit.
"If you want to play for England you have to cope with that".
"We wanted to go on and win it and we thought we had enough to go through but it wasn't to be". Defeat to Belgium in the group stages gave England an "easier" route in the tournament.
Despite Kieran Trippier giving England an early lead, Croatia clawed their way back into the game and edged past Southgate's side after extra time. For the majority of this tournament we have tried to be as positive as we can be and be fearless.
Croatia will be hoping to avoid that fate when they take on France in Moscow on Sunday. "It's a big stepping stone from two years ago".
Conte leads first Chelsea training amid rumours on future
Conte, 48, also has a clause in his contract that guarantees him a pay-off, thought to be £9m, for the final year of his deal. CSKA Moscow midfielder, Aleksandr Golovin looks very likely to become the club's first the addition of the summer.