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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 June 2006, 14:48 GMT 15:48 UK
Beckham slams Hargreaves critics
By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer in Baden-Baden

Eriksson was criticised for including Hargreaves in his squad
Eriksson was criticised for including Hargreaves in his squad
England's fans have come under fire from captain David Beckham and former World Cup star Terry Butcher for booing Owen Hargreaves against Paraguay.

Hargreaves was greeted by loud jeering when he came on to replace Joe Cole late in the 1-0 win against Paraguay.

Beckham said: "There were a number of players who were turning around and were disgusted. Owen is an honest player doing his best for his country."

BBC pundit Butcher said: "It was a disgrace - it just shouldn't happen."

Meanwhile, Bayern Munich midfielder Owen Hargreaves said he did not have "anything to prove" and still had confidence in his own ability.

"I have achieved a lot in my 25 years, I've won the Champions League title and domestic titles, and played over 40 games in the Champions League," he said.

"In the biggest games I've always played my best, and the most important thing is belief in yourself and belief from manager.

"I was quite surprised there was criticism at my inclusion in the squad, I would never have expected that to happen.

"Some people tend to have an opinion who don't know me, they don't see me week in and week out."

Beckham launched a strong defence of the player.

He said: "He's playing for one of the finest clubs. He's won the Champions League and lots of titles. He is a very good player.

There might be a bit of the sheep mentality, where a couple of people say he shouldn't be in the squad and others follow suit

Terry Butcher

"It's sad to hear, but Owen is a strong player and a strong personality and he will overcome that."

Butcher told BBC Sport: "England fans should not boo any England player, ever. Period.

"If you are a true England fan you do not boo anyone in that red or white shirt. It's a disgrace.

"He doesn't deserve it. He is a Champions League winner and has numerous other honours, and is clearly a very highly-rated player.

"I think there might be a bit of the sheep mentality, whereby a couple of people say he shouldn't be in the squad and others follow suit.

"Four years ago he was doing a very good job as a holding midfield player in the World Cup, and before he got an injury against Argentina he was one of the bright spots.

"Eriksson is still thinking about how he can use him and rightly so."

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