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Last Updated: Monday, 16 January 2006, 09:54 GMT
Eriksson says players forgive him
England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson
I am confident my relationship with them has not been damaged in any way
Sven-Goran Eriksson
England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson said he has received the backing of his players following embarrassing allegations in the News of the World.

Eriksson divulged private details of several members of his squad to an undercover reporter.

"I do not feel I have embarrassed the players," said Eriksson at a Football Writers' Association dinner on Sunday.

"It would have been better without the article, of course, but having spoken to them about it there is no problem."

The England coach was quoted as discussing David Beckham, Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand and Shaun Wright-Phillips.

Eriksson added: "I have spoken to almost all of them: Beckham, Rooney, Rio Ferdinand and Michael Owen.

"I did not contact Shaun-Wright Phillips because he was playing at Sunderland but I will do so."

THE STORY AS IT DEVELOPED

Eriksson did not believe his comments would cause a problem for Owen, who he claimed had told him he was unhappy on Tyneside and was only at the club because they put together an incredible financial package.

But Eriksson said: "I do not think Michael Owen will have a problem with the Newcastle fans."

Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd responded: "We have spoken with the player and he has confirmed he is happy at Newcastle United."

Eriksson is also said to have spoken about Rooney's suspect temper, suggested Ferdinand is lazy and questioned the money Chelsea had paid for Wright-Phillips.

During the meeting, Eriksson is said to have suggested England skipper David Beckham was unsettled at Real Madrid and keen to return to England.

But Real Madrid coach Juan Ramon Lopez Caro was quoted as saying: "I think Becks is a 12 out of 10 player and you can see that in his attitude on the pitch. I think he is committed to the club."

And a Real Madrid spokesman said: "If an offer came in for David Beckham from any club, not just from England, it would be rejected."

A Beckham spokesman said: "There's no intention to return to England. David is focused on doing all he can for Real."

Eriksson, his lawyer Richard Des Voeux and Still met the undercover reporter, posing as a rich Arab, in Dubai to discuss a consultancy role for a new football academy, a trip that was sanctioned by the FA.

During the meeting Eriksson is said to have suggested he would consider becoming Aston Villa boss if the Arab group succeeded in a possible takeover of the club.

But Eriksson, who has been given the backing of the Football Association, says he is "100% committed" to England despite the newspaper quoting him as claiming he might leave his post if his team won the World Cup.

While Eriksson re-iterated his commitment to his job, his employers were equally swift to confirm their support for him.

A senior source at the FA told the BBC Eriksson's job was "not at risk in any way".

And a statement on the FA's website said it could "confirm that England head coach Sven-Goran Eriksson continues to have the full support of the organisation."

The coach's agent Athole Still told BBC Five Live that Eriksson had even asked him to see if the FA would extend his contract until 2010.

Still accused the newspaper of "disgraceful entrapment" and made it clear that Eriksson is disgusted at the timing of events and hinted that they could take action against the article.

The News of the World undercover reporter in question, Mazher Mahmood, has a track record of trapping public figures in embarrassing stings.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Interview: Sven-Goran Eriksson's agent Athole Still


Interview: Former England player Chris Waddle


Interview: Former Scotland boss Craig Brown



SEE ALSO
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09 Sep 05 |  UK News


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