For many Canadians, soccer is a relatively new game, if you compare it to hockey.

But for fans of the two teams in Wednesday's semifinal between England and Croatia, this is a game steeped in more than a hundred years of history.

And it wasn't hard to find those fans in the Maritimes as two teams considered underdogs advance further than they have for decades.

“We've not been this far since 1990,” says England fan Bex Saunders. “So yeah, it's a pretty big deal.”

Go back in time -- two hours before kickoff -- and this self-proclaimed “Brit chick” was buzzing.

She is a touch patriotic and she also had a premonition about the World Cup last week.

“If the bigger teams or the stronger teams went out and we ended up in the final and we actually won it, and then all of the sudden, it started kind of happening, so yeah I’m feeling confident,” she said before yesterday’s game.

At Mark Harper's house, those nerves were steadied by an oh-so-English cuppa tea with his mum - visiting from the UK.

The last time England won the World Cup was before he was born.

That meant big hopes for yesterday's game, on his 50th birthday.

“I’ve had a lot of Facebook messages from friends back in England saying, ‘Happy Birthday, hope you get the gift that you're really looking for today,’” said Harper.

Slavko Negulic is a native Croatian, who helped build the sport of soccer in Nova Scotia.

“We are little country, only 3.5 to 4 million people living in Croatia,” he said.

For him, Wednesday’s game was a big moment.

“I’m just like a little kid, nervous,” he said. “It’s a silly thing, you know, why just a little a ball, chasing it around, but we just have so much passion for it.”

It was a big day for Negulic anyway, but when his team advanced to the final for the first time with a 2-1 extra time win, it became even more memorable.

“It’s one of those things you will remember the rest of your life,” he said.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Heidi Petracek