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Breakfast Sunday, 23 June, 2002, 06:45 GMT 07:45 UK
Beating the World Cup Blues
Captain David Beckham waits in the coach ready to be taken from Heathrow
Beckham waits to be taken from Heathrow
The performance of a favourite football team can have a dramatic impact on the local community, according to Psychiatrist Dr Raj Persaud.

Dr Raj Persaud on BBC Breakfast
looking to the future is a classic "coping mechanism" says Dr Persaud
He told Breakfast this morning (Sunday) that murder rates go up dramatically when teams lose.

But, if they're winning, suicide rates stay low.

What we're seeing now that England are out of the cup, is a number of "coping mechanisms" according to Dr Persaud.

The England flags have suddenly disappeared as people try to bury their disappointment. And Tony Blair has apparently exhibited another classic "coping mechanism", by looking to the future instead of dwelling on the past.


background

Thousands of England fans greeted Sven-Goran Eriksson's World Cup squad as they returned from Japan.

The quarter-finalists touched down at London's Heathrow Airport at 2306 BST on Saturday, less than 40 hours after they were eliminated from the competition by Brazil

It was a low-key arrival, and about 150 fans hoping to see the players walk through the terminal at Heathrow were disappointed when they disembarked at a special hangar and boarded waiting coaches.

Captain David Beckham and his colleagues were greeted by only about 80 airport ground staff and journalists.

However, the majority of the reported 7,000 fans lined the airport's perimeter roads and cheered as the squad departed in coaches.

The vehicles had earlier waited on the runway for 20 minutes as the media flashbulbs grabbed pictures of the players who had declined to speak to the press.

Tiny gathering

They then set off towards the Meridien Excelsior Hotel, at Hayes in Middlesex, from where the players and Football Association (FA) staff went their separate ways.

Beckham and Eriksson had earlier been the first two major members of the party to step off the chartered British Airways Boeing 777 jet, following its 5,500 mile journey from Osaka which took 12 hours and 38 minutes.

They were joined by the rest of the squad - dressed in regulation black blazers - for a photocall which was accompanied by a ripple of applause from the tiny gathering.

Fans crowding round team coach
Thousands of fans mobbed the coaches

England's footballers plus their wives, girlfriends and children - minus Beckham's pop star wife Victoria who stayed at home because she is seven months pregnant - then boarded five coaches.

The waiting fans swarmed towards the coaches as they emerged from the Heathrow complex - almost forcing them to stop - while the players smiled and waved through the windows.

Goalkeeper David Seaman, whose mistake let in Brazil's winning goal on Friday, was given a good reception by the crowd as he sat in the coach alongside wife Debbie, 40, daughter Georgina, two, and seven-month-old son Robbie.

England's low-key homecoming was a far cry from the one they received after the 1990 World Cup - which was the last time they made it to the quarter-final stage of the competition.

Then, a sea of flag-waving supporters greeted Paul Gascoigne and his team-mates, but this was a much more damp affair.


The mood coming back was superb

Ted Beckham,
David's father
But the players would have been relieved at the reaction from the supporters - albeit from afar - and Beckham's father Ted revealed that the atmosphere on the flight home was buoyant.

"The mood coming back was superb," he said.

FA head of communications Paul Newman added: "The mood was not one of disappointment. It was very relaxed and the players are pleased to be with their families and back home again."

Several players later began leaving the Meridien Excelsior - where 300 fans had gathered.

'Surreal'

Sol Campbell, Ashley Cole and Trevor Sinclair were among the first players to leave, in separate cars.

David Seaman with his family at Heathrow
David Seaman got a good reception
Seaman was among the last to leave, accompanied by his family.

As the people carrier he was travelling left approached the hotel exit, it was mobbed by cheering fans.

Eriksson was also driven from the hotel to screams and applause.

Jen Egan, 23, from Shepperton, Middlesex, said she had been determined to see the players.

"It was fantastic, it was surreal, I was giggling like a schoolgirl as the cars went past.

"We love England, all the players, and we just had to be here."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC News' Jake Lynch
"Thousands of fans gathered at Heathrow"
Dr Raj Persad

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