Becks 'proud' of England's grit against Andorra

March 30, 2007

David Beckham has backed England to qualify for Euro 2008 and claimed the passion shown by the players during a difficult qualifying campaign has made him 'proud'.

Supporters turned on coach Steve McClaren and his side as they laboured to an unconvincing 3-0 victory over Andorra on Wednesday night, chanting: 'We want McClaren out'.

England, who also registered a desperate goalless draw with Israel on Saturday, lie fourth in Group E and are in serious danger of failing to qualify for the finals.

But former skipper Beckham, who was last night recognised for his outstanding contribution to British sport at the Sport Industry Awards, is confident they will book their place in Austria and Switzerland.

'Qualification is very difficult but I'm 100% behind these players and this team. I believe they will go all the way and qualify,' he said.

'It will be tough but with the quality we've got we can do it. It was important for the lads to get three points against Andorra.

'They did that and I was proud to see the way the players were fighting because it wasn't an easy game. It wasn't an easy atmosphere.'

Beckham, who will leave Real Madrid for Major League Soccer side Los Angeles Galaxy in the summer, believes senior players such as John Terry and Steven Gerrard rose to the occasion against Andorra.

'When you need a win you need your big players to come out and do it for you and we had that against Andorra. It was great to see,' he said.

'I can speak for the players because I've been a player with most of the lads out there.

'It's tough when you take criticism but the lads came through that and it was an important win. They showed a lot of strength and character.

'There will always be criticism in football but the lads rode it and I was proud to see captain John Terry standing up, as did other players around him.

'And of course Steven Gerrard won them the game.'

England's dismal performances have heaped pressure on McClaren, who axed Beckham when he took over as coach, with the under-performing players also attracting heavy criticism.

But despite a slump that continues to provoke the fury of supporters, Beckham insists he is not happy to be out of the firing line.

'I'd never be relieved that I'm not playing for England,' he said.

'I've always wanted to play for my country since I was a young boy and that has never changed.

'I'll always have that passion, whether I do or not we'll see. The passion will always be there.'

Beckham is currently sidelined with a knee injury, but the 31-year-old hopes to be fit within a fortnight.

'I'd like to think you'll see me back in an England shirt,' he said.

'I have to get back playing because I'm injured at the moment. I should be back in 10 days or two weeks. But we'll see.'