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Sunday, 8 September, 2002, 13:21 GMT 14:21 UK
England winning mind games
Gareth Southgate polices Portugal's Luis Figo
Southgate tries to stop Luis Figo
Gareth Southgate feels the England players are finally starting to believe they have the ability to compete with world's best.

England's 1-1 draw against a Portugal side containing the world class Luis Figo and Rui Costa is evidence of the team's stronger mental attitude, says Southgate.

"If you want to reach the top you must have self belief. We have the talent, it is just a case of getting the mental state right.

"You have to instil into the players' minds that they are not inferior. You are not playing against the names, you are playing against human beings who are as fallible as anybody else.

"Sometimes teams take on Brazil and they are beaten before they start but performances like Saturday's will help because we coped with the pressure really well.

"You look at the Portuguese team sheet and know you are in for a tough afternoon but we managed to stop them, which is a huge positive for us.

"The players know they deserve to be on this stage."

Ambition

Southgate was pleased with his performance, but is realistic about his chances of breaking up England's defensive partnership of Rio Ferdinand and Sol Campbell.

He said: "Most of us know what Sven's first choice team will be but this was a great opportunity to come in and show what you can do," he said.

"There are a lot of good young players around but I am looking to force my way in rather than over my shoulder seeing what is behind.

"At the moment I feel quite relaxed about the situation."

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