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Last Updated: Monday, 5 June 2006, 16:20 GMT 17:20 UK
England squad arrive in Germany
Wayne Rooney, David Beckham and Sven-Goran Eriksson board the plane
It doesn't come any bigger than the World Cup finals and we are ready for it

Sven-Goran Eriksson
England's footballers have arrived at their luxurious hotel base in Germany for the World Cup finals.

British Airways flight BA9200C from Luton touched down at 1700 BST and the players were taken to the Schlosshotel Buhlerhohe near Baden-Baden.

Wayne Rooney travelled with the squad on the plane renamed Pride of the Nation, but he returns to Manchester on Wednesday for a scan on his metatarsal.

England play their first game against Paraguay in Frankfurt on 10 June.

Sven-Goran Eriksson's squad had a final training session on English soil on Monday in Watford before leaving for Luton airport.

England are second favourites to win the tournament for the first time since 1966, behind much-fancied Brazil.

England captain David Beckham
Beckham made a patriotic gesture from the plane
Staff and other travellers at Luton gave the England squad a rousing send-off before they took off for the Black Forest region of Germany.

Their base, the 90-room Schlosshotel Buhlerhohe, has only one road leading to it and will have a full security blanket around it while the team are there.

Eriksson is confident his players are in "perfect shape" going into the tournament and the Swede is well aware that England is already gripped with World Cup fever.

"The players will feel it from the moment we arrive in Germany," said Eriksson, whose team will be welcomed to the Spa town of Baden Baden by local schoolchildren.

"It doesn't come any bigger than the World Cup finals and we are ready for it now. We are confident and my mind and those of all the players and staff are totally focused on the next few weeks."

Dan and Richard Woods at Luton Airport
BBC journalist Claire Heald joins the England fans in Luton
Eriksson is preparing for his second World Cup in charge of England and his last tournament as national team coach with Steve McClaren taking over after the finals.

Spurs' striker Jermain Defoe is travelling with the rest of the squad in case the scan results rule Rooney out of the month-long tournament, which starts on Friday with the Group A match between hosts Germany and Costa Rica.

Eriksson remains convinced that Rooney, 20, can play a part in Germany.

"I am very confident that he will be flying back to join us on Wednesday evening after his scan," he said after Saturday's 6-0 win over Jamaica in the final warm-up match.

Much of the media attention will be on the England captain David Beckham - with Eriksson claiming his skipper will prove at this World Cup he is the world's best set-piece specialist.

"We have the best deliverer of free-kicks and corner kicks in the world and we have people who can put it in.

"We are one of the best teams in the world on set-pieces."

At the last World Cup, in 2002, Beckham struggled for fitness as he returned from a broken foot.

David Beckham has been Real Madrid's best player this season

Sven-Goran Eriksson
But this year he has finished in the top three of England's pre-tournament fitness tests, along with Frank Lampard and Gary Neville.

Eriksson said: "I haven't seen all Real Madrid's games but I've seen more than 50% and he's been their best player this season.

"It makes a big difference. He seems to be very fit and very much in form more or less all year. Fingers crossed, let's hope we don't have any more injuries for him or any other players."

Eriksson also confirmed that Lampard will take all of England's penalties during the actual matches, with all of the squad practising spot-kicks in case of any shoot-outs.

Were you at Luton airport when the England squad departed? Do you have any pictures of the team boarding the Pride of the Nation, or did you see the plane taking off?

If you have pictures, you can send them to

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