David James: We Drank Until Dawn After World Cup Exit


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GOALIE David James today lays bare the fury and frustration at the heart of England's World Cup disaster.

The veteran told The Sun he has now been dropped by Fabio Capello and spoke of his pain at bowing out to our worst defeat in the history of the tournament.

Former Liverpool and Portsmouth star James - capped 53 times and selected for three World Cups - revealed:

TENSION mounted as the Three Lions' South African base became a five-star pressure cooker;

TACTICAL blunders allowed lowly opponents to outwit us by switching their style of play;

FURY in the dressing room at half time in Bloemfontein caused our disastrous 4-1 defeat at the hands of Germany;

GUTTED stars drowned their sorrows till dawn at the team's infamous cigar-smoking hotel wake.

And the 6ft 4ins keeper insisted England would have beaten Germany if Frank Lampard's "goal" had been given. The shot bounced a yard over the line but Uruguayan officials waved play on.

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James, 40, said: "There was a lot of anger in our dressing room at half time - a lot of raised voices.

"From my position in goal I couldn't see whether it was over the line. But having seen the replays afterwards, I still can't believe it wasn't given.

"You could understand the furious reaction and frustration from players like Lamps and Wayne Rooney who saw it clearly.

"The manager tried in vain to calm everyone down. He said, 'Just accept it wasn't a goal. Accept the score is still 2-1.'

"But there was too much emotion about. Everybody to a man was shouting in disbelief, 'I can't believe it - I can't believe that wasn't given.' David Beckham and the lads on the bench joined in, shaking their heads repeating, 'That was miles over - miles over.'

"If only it had happened earlier and not so close to half time - because when they came into the dressing room it was the only thing on the players' minds.

"They went back out on to the pitch all fired up with their fists clenched shouting, 'Come on! Come on! Come on!' and immediately started pressing and pressing. But that turned into over-commitment.

"We played into Germany's hands and they punished us.

"I couldn't bring myself to talk to anyone as I walked off the pitch that day.

"It was a desperately gutting feeling and my head was so full of disappointment I didn't even hear the boos from the England fans.

"I think I shook the referee's hand and trudged straight to the changing room where all the lads were sitting in silence.

"The manager wasn't going to b*****k anyone. Why would he? What could he say? He just shrugged and told us, 'That's it - we're out.' But the manner in which we got beat by a team which was younger than us and less experienced was very hard to take.

"There were no tears or tantrums - just despair. The whole team was shocked not just by the scoreline but because we felt cheated."

England flew by private jet from Bloemfontein back to their Rustenburg base straight after their record defeat. And fury erupted back home when pictures surfaced of Chelsea's Ashley Cole laughing as he stepped off the plane and Aaron Lennon smoking a cigar.

But James insisted the mood in the camp was sombre - and that players WERE filled with remorse. He said: "There was a cigar smoked - but I can assure you that no one was celebrating. It wasn't a happy 'who cares?' situation back at the hotel. There was a lot of soul searching going on.

"People smoke cigars but it was nothing to do with success or failure. The reality was we weren't leaving until the following morning and we were trying to come to terms with tremendous disappointment.

"We had a few drinks afterwards because... why not? We were out - it was all over.

"It went on for hours, I think until dawn broke, drinking and talking about football. It was like exorcising a ghost - it had to be done.

"The wake went on all night and we ended up going off on some odd tangents after a few vodkas.

"I looked over to Wayne Rooney and he was a desolate figure. We were all at rock bottom." James told how the anguish hit home further on his return to England, where flags still fluttered forlornly on homes and cars.

He said: "When you're at a World Cup you're in a bubble. But when you come back and see the St George's flags you feel the weight of expectation - and all that disappointment. We knew we had the following of a nation which felt let down and that it had been a dismal campaign."

James admitted England had been wrong-footed by the tactics of lowly opponents in their supposedly "easy" qualifying group.

He said: "The problem was that teams we came up against had not come to the World Cup to win games - they had come not to lose.They had done so much homework on us, it made them play differently so the homework we'd done on them was useless.

"We watched videos of all the Algeria games before the World Cup and could even study their first game against Slovenia.

"We saw lots of stuff - but when we played against them, they weren't playing the same way and did nothing but defend.

"That frustrated us and every England fan watching and I accept it must have been an awful spectacle. But the World Cup wasn't what people expected it to be.

"If you look at Spain - the eventual winners - they were the lowest scoring world champions ever."

James praised the state-of-the-art training facility at Rustenburg's Royal Bafokeng Campus and their ?1,000-a-night rooms at the Royal Marang Hotel on the site. But he added: "As wonderful as the facility was, we were never away from it.

"In Germany and Japan we stayed in hotels and travelled down to the training ground, then come back. But in South Africa we were in constant proximity to the training pitch - our workplace - and there was no escape.

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"I eventually ended up walking alone around the complex just trying to break up the day but there wasn't much to see - just grass and fences.

"If I'm honest I think we could have all used more free time."

James, who has kept more Premier League clean sheets than any other goalie, has just transferred from Portsmouth to Bristol City to be closer to his family in Devon.

But despite virtually faultless World Cup performances he received a phone call last week from Capello's assistant Franco Baldini to tell him he had been axed.

James said: "He explained England were looking at the future and that I was being dropped. I'm mature enough to accept the manager wants to focus on youth. But I don't think I'm over the hill and will keep fighting to get back into contention."

Source : TheSun

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