Hargreaves eager to beat quarter-final hoodoo

May 27, 2008

Owen Hargreaves believes England can fulfil Fabio Capello's belief of being capable of reaching the 2010 World Cup final - and shake off their tag of being perennial losing quarter-finalists.

England fell at the last-eight hurdle in the 2002 and 2006 World Cups plus Euro 2004 before failing to even qualify for Euro 2008.

There has been a thin dividing line between success and failure, with England twice losing on penalties in the quarter-finals in 2004 and 2006.

Capello has enough faith in his current squad to believe a long run in South Africa is within the capabilities of his players - a view endorsed by Hargreaves.

The Manchester United star said: 'People have said we haven't achieved anything over the last few years but we have got to three quarter-finals.

'We lost (2-1) to Brazil in ridiculous heat in Japan and they were a fabulous side. Then we lost on penalties twice when we could have been in two semi-finals which would have been an achievement.

'I don't think it is fair to say it is all negative. Obviously the last campaign was poor and we need to learn from those mistakes.

'But there have been some good things and we just need to improve in getting past that quarter-final stage because so far that has been the biggest hurdle for us.

'If those penalty shoot-outs had gone the other way, you could easily have been a European Championship or World Cup winner. But that hurdle for us, quarter-finals, has been a big one and so far we haven't found the answer and I hope that is something we can improve on.'

Hargreaves admitted: 'When you look at the squad of players it is disappointing we are not at the European Championships. We should be. We have the players and the personalities to be there and one of the teams competing for it.

'All the players are quite confident on their day, we could beat anyone. Fabio Capello thinks we can reach the final in South Africa and he is right in his assessment. We could get to the final. Those are the expectations.'

Hargreaves quickly came back down to earth after winning the Champions League with United - a success he had previously enjoyed with Bayern Munich - after revealing he had been feeling ill.

He said: 'It is fabulous to compete and get a reward for all the hard work you put in during a season but for me that, the Champions League, is in the past already.

'It is gone for me if I am honest. It was a fabulous moment. The first time I won with Bayern I didn't even celebrate really. It was my first season, I had just broken into the team, and I didn't even have a picture of me with the cup.

'My mum and dad wanted that but I said no because I didn't want to give the impression with the other older players that I was greedy or anything like that.

'Five or 10 minutes after the Chelsea game, I was content with being a winner. I don't need to celebrate and milk the win for weeks.

'To be honest, after the game, I felt ill and sick. I don't think I had eaten enough to last 120 minutes and it was cold and rainy and I was freezing. I didn't feel the best.

'After the game when everyone was having pictures, I showered for an hour because I was so cold.'