England boys are buzzing says Defoe
JERMAIn Defoe hailed a great performance throughout the England team after Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Slovenia secured a place in the last 16 of the World Cup.
Defoe’s first-half goal was the difference between Fabio Capello’s side and the Slovenians as england set up a meeting with Germany in Bloemfontein on Sunday.
“The lads are buzzing - it was a great performance, not just winning the game but a great performance from front to back,” Defoe said.
“The spirit’s great and we’re looking forward to it.”
The Tottenham striker admitted he would rather have avoided the Germans, with a match against Ghana next up for group winners the United States.
He added: “It would have been nice to have faced Ghana but, to win a major tournament, you’re going to have to beat the best.
“But we’ll just approach it like any other game.”
The build-up to the Slovenia game was filled with reports of friction in the england camp following John Terry’s controversial press conference.
But Defoe said: “Preparation before the game was spot-on. The lads are putting the work in and if you’re doing that work on the training pitch then you take that into the game.
“The work-rate and the passion were there.
“I don’t think there were any problems to be honest. obviously when you’re not winning games, everyone’s low but when you’re winning everyone’s sharp and happy.”
Defoe revealed Capello had kept up the spirits of the players after the first two games despite the situation they found themselves in.
The Italian allowed his players to have a drink on Tuesday and was rewarded with a display that showed far more character than the opening games.
Defoe said: “The manager is just trying to get us relaxed. He’s been great. He said ‘keep it going, we are a fantastic team’.
“It’s nice to hear. He kept the faith and it’s been really good.
“After the first game he said ‘keep going . . . I believe we can win this world Cup’.”
The 27-year-old believes england’s below-par performances can be attributed to tension and a desire to succeed.
“In a massive tournament it’s normal to be a bit tense - you want to do well. we’ve seen that with other games with other countries.
“wednesday was more relaxed. The manager wanted us to press higher and the work-rate was spot on.”
The Tottenham striker also dismissed Franz Beckenbauer’s claim the team were ‘burnt out’ following a demanding domestic season.
“I don’t feel tired,” added Defoe. “The Premier league is one of the toughest to play in. There are lots of games, particularly for the lads playing in europe and there’s the cup competitions.
“If you look after your body and prepare right there shouldn’t be a problem. The preparation is spot on for every game.”
As for his winning goal, the former west Ham forward admitted it was one of the highest points of his career so far.
“It was up there. what a moment. You can imagine the phone calls and texts.
“It was hard to find words. It was something I dreamed about as a young lad and all through the season.”
Defoe also revealed england had been practising penalties should they be required at the weekend.
He said: “ever since the training camp in Austria, everyone has been practising them. But I hope it doesn’t have to go that far.”
Asked if he would volunteer to take a spot-kick in a shoot-out, he added: “Yes, 100 per cent.”
HIGH SPIRITS: Jermain Defore at a press conference yesterday.