RUSTENBURG - England will treat their
World Cup second round meeting with old rivals Germany as 'just
another game', striker Jermain Defoe said on Thursday.
Defoe, 28, scorer of England's decisive goal in a 1-0
victory over Slovenia in their final Group C fixture on
Wednesday, said most of the squad would have preferred a last-16
knockout clash with Ghana but they were all now "buzzing" with
anticipation ahead of Sunday's trip to Bloemfontein.
"Forget the history, forget all the stuff from years ago,"
Defoe told reporters at England's base camp, the Royal Bafokeng
Sports Campus, north of Rustenburg. "We just have to focus on
ourselves and do the job."
As a frenzied English media corps began dusting off stories
recalling the dramas at previous World Cups in 1966, 1970 and
1990, the latter a semi-final settled by penalties in Germany's
favour, Defoe called for a single-minded focus.
"I think it's important to approach it as just another game.
The lads are buzzing, as you would expect. The performance
yesterday (Wednesday) was fantastic, from front to back.
"Everyone worked hard and I thought the shape of the team
was good which is something that the manager wanted so everyone
is buzzing at the minute which is important. The spirit is
great. We are all looking forward to it.
"It would have been nice to have had Ghana, to be honest,
but to win a major tournament you have to play, and beat, the
best teams, and it is important not to think about history, or
previous games over the years.
"We just have to be confident and approach it like any other
Defoe also rejected German World Cup-winning player and
coach Franz Beckenbauer's continued criticisms of England,
suggesting they erred in failing to win Group C and looked burnt
out by the demands of the Premier League.
"Everyone has an opinion and you don't always get nice
things said about you all the time," he said. "It's part and
parcel of playing at the top level. We just have to concentrate
on ourselves and not get sidetracked.
"We are not burnt out. Yes, we do play in one of the
toughest leagues, with a lot of games and in Europe and in cup
competitions. But if you look after your body, and prepare
right, it's not a problem."
Many of the messages, he added, were emotionally stirring
for him and his family who suffered a dreadful tragedy in April
last year when his half-brother Jade, 26, was murdered in
"Yeah, I wanted to make my family happy," he explained. "My
mum was crying before the game (against Slovenia) so afterwards
you can imagine - it was just fantastic.
"Before, she told me she had all the family round and I just
said 'cor, put some more pressure on me! I have to play well
Asked if England had been practising penalties given their
poor record in shootouts in major tournaments, he said: "Yes,
every day since Austria (their pre-tournament preparation camp)
and they are all going in. But I hope it does not go that far."
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