Cole admits England relief
Joe Cole admits his relief at reaching the second round - but reckons England can now go all the way.
By Ben Collins
Last Updated: 25/06/10 11:30am
Joe Cole has admitted England's relief at reaching the second round - but reckons they will now go from strength to strength.
The Three Lions had to beat Slovenia in their final group game to be sure of avoiding an early exit and Jermain Defoe's first-half strike secured a crucial 1-0 win.
Fabio Capello's must now overcome old foes Germany in Bloemfontein on Sunday to keep the hopes of the nation alive.
And following the criticism of England's spirit in the dismal 0-0 draw against Algeria, Cole insists the squad yearns for World Cup glory just as much as the English public.
"What a relief," the midfielder told The Sun. "The boys want to succeed and the pressure was really on us. But we played well and got the result and that's a relief.
"Some people misunderstand us. We live this 24 hours a day and we want to do so well.
"For whatever reason, it doesn't work sometimes. But we are always there and I believe we can do it, I believe in the team and the manager.
"We are all right behind him and everyone believes we can do it, I really genuinely think we can.
"I feel it is our time and if we keep playing like we did against Slovenia, anything can happen.
"Hopefully now we can push on and try to win this World Cup."
John Terry's desperate headlong dive in an attempt to block a late Slovenian shot epitomised the English spirit in a much-improved performance.
The Chelsea captain was playing alongside West Ham's Matthew Upson in England's third central-defensive partnership in three games and Cole is confident the former skipper can help lead the Three Lions into the latter stages.
"You can't knock JT," he added. "He is the best centre-half in the world and some of his blocks and tackles were brilliant.
"He has played alongside three defensive partners, he is the heartbeat of the side and an exceptional player.
"We're lucky because we've got so many good leaders in the team but it was a truly great performance from him."
Despite calls for Cole to start, he made his first appearance of the finals as a late substitute and the out-of-contract Chelsea man insists he is happy for the chance to make any contribution.
"It is a mental game," he said. "Of course you want to play but you must accept it's a squad game.
"I'm available and I'll fight for my place. If I get one minute, I'll fight for that one minute. If I start, I'll fight for that.
"I'm glad I've played and, if I keep training well, hopefully I can make an impact on this World Cup.
"It's hard to get in after such a good team performance but things have never come easy to me so that's cool.
"I'll just do my thing but the main thing is the team and the way we play - and we can be proud of how we all played."