Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Skipper Issues Call for Passion

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Skipper Issues Call for Passion

Article excerpt

Byline: By Mark Bradley

David Beckham declared that the England would heal the rift with the nation over their strike threat by proving their passion and patriotism in winning tonight's Euro 2004 qualifier in Turkey.

The England captain insisted that the squad have nothing to apologise for, although he accepted for the first time that Rio Ferdinand should not have missed his drugs test.

The players still have an issue with the Football Association over Ferdinand's treatment, although Beckham was unclear whether any further repercussions would follow next week.

Amid reports that a vote of no confidence in FA chief executive Mark Palios is still planned, he indicated at one point that his comments had only "cleared most of it up until after the game".

However, when asked later if there would be a call for heads to roll, he responded: "No, not that I know of. Hopefully it's not mine!

"We've done what we believed in and we've put that in statements. To be honest, I don't want to see any more statements."

What was abundantly clear was Beckham's desire to shift the focus onto tonight's final group game, from which England need to take a point to qualify automatically for next summer's Euro 2004 finals in Portugal. "We have to put what's gone on in the past week behind us. The crisis is gone now," declared the England skipper.

"Whether people think that we owe the country something or that we let the country down, that can only be put right in the game with the passion and togetherness we'll show, and hopefully with the result.

"Football is a great healer for a lot of people around the world. Hopefully that's what we're going to do for the nation. It has been a hard week, as we all realise.

"We hope that, for 90 minutes, we can actually prove that our passion's still there for our country and for ourselves.

"If we win the game, then that says it all."

Beckham insists he and his teammates have been "offended" by question-marks over their patriotism in the wake of their reported threat to boycott the game if Ferdinand was not reinstated. "The headlines will always be there while our wages are what they are, so we are prepared to take the criticism," he added. …

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