Mar 22, 2011

Bellamy: England stars "afraid" of being booed

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Wales striker Craig Bellamy claims that England have struggled because the high expectations of the fans turn the players into nervous wrecks.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's Euro 2012 qualifying showdown at the Millennium Stadium the Welshman said that England stars such as Steven Gerrard were "afraid" of being booed if they misplaced a pass, and that the resulting tension has been an issue since back in 2006.

"When I was playing at Liverpool, I know some of the England players were scared when they played for England," Bellamy told the Daily Mirror. "I remember Steven Gerrard, before playing Andorra, saying that for the first time he didn't want to risk giving the ball away because he was afraid of the boos.

"I remember looking at him and thinking: 'That's Steven Gerrard, one of the greatest players in the world over the last ten years and he felt that'.

"Imagine the environment at that game. And you tell me players go there just for prestige? They are top, top players. They don't need that."

And the on-loan Cardiff City striker believes this explains England's disappointing performance at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

"I watched them in the World Cup last summer like everybody else, and I don't buy into the idea that England ain't good enough," Bellamy said. "The other thing that people always say is that the England players don't want it enough, but that's rubbish, too.

"Before the tournament, there was so much optimism you had certain players being lined up to be knighted. England were going into it with the best centre half in the world, the best centre forward in the world, but tournaments don't work out like that.

"Germany were brilliant because they went with a group of players who were given freedom. Because so much was expected of them, England just looked tense, so tense."

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