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Last Updated: Monday, 24 November, 2003, 15:40 GMT
Wilko's father missed winning kick
Jonny Wilkinson
Jonny Wilkinson has taken his place in the history books
The father of England hero Jonny Wilkinson has told how he walked away from the rugby World Cup final, minutes before his son scored the winning drop goal.

Phil Wilkinson, who has just travelled back from Australia where he was following the tournament, told how he could not bear to watch - just like his wife.

Speaking from his home near Corbridge, Northumberland, he put his actions down to simply "being a parent".

Mr Wilkinson saw his son's heroics on a television screen beneath the stand at the stadium while wife Philippa, who had stayed at home in England, had been shopping at a Tesco's store in Newcastle during the game.

Mr Wilkinson said: "It was just the total pressure and everything else.

"It was just a feeling that you are there but you can't doing anything to change anything.

Iconic figure

"You have an insight more than any normal fan as to what's involved."

Mr Wilkinson added that he did not believe his son, who plays for Newcastle Falcons, would become an iconic figure like David Beckham.

He said: "He won't. People have been talking on the TV about fame and money. We'll just get on with it and get on with life."

He admitted he was a "happy dad" and added: "I'll settle for that." Mr Wilkinson added: "When he does come back we'll get back into the normal routine and get back into normal life."

Despite all the accolades, Mr Wilkinson was keen to play down the idea of his son being the individual star of Saturday's performance, in which England beat Australia 20-17 in Sydney.

He said: "He does what he does. It is a total team effort.

"The script was that somebody kicks the last goal and that's what he does."

He confirmed that Saturday's victory had been Jonny's long-held ambition, saying: "It's been his dream to win a World Cup for sure."

'Great pride'

Meanwhile Jonny Wilkinson is to be made a Freeman of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Previous recipients of the honour include the late Cardinal Basil Hulme, Nelson Mandela, Bob Geldof and fellow sportsmen Jackie Milburn, Alan Shearer and Jonathan Edwards.

Newcastle City Council leader Tony Flynn will propose that Wilkinson is awarded the Freedom of the City and will seek the approval at a full council meeting on Wednesday 3 December.

If approved, he will receive a Scroll of Freedom, sign a register dating back to the 1800s and have his name chiselled into a wall of honour at Newcastle Civic Centre.

Mr Flynn said Wilkinson had proved himself worthy of the accolade.

He said: "It is the highest honour the city is able to bestow on anyone.

"The people of Newcastle feel a great pride for all of Jonny's achievements.

Wilkinson, 24, has played for Newcastle Falcons all of his professional career.



England prepares rugby homecoming
24 Nov 03  |  Rugby World Cup
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22 Nov 03  |  Tyne/Wear
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24 Sep 03  |  Players to Watch

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