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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 June 2006, 05:35 GMT 06:35 UK
Beckham defended by England stars
By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer in Baden-Baden

David Beckham
Beckham has taken flak from ex-England players
England's World Cup stars have jumped to the defence of captain David Beckham after he answered critics with the winning goal against Ecuador.

Ex-internationals Sir Geoff Hurst and Terry Butcher led calls for Beckham to be axed, but his free-kick sealed a quarter-final tie against Portugal.

Goalkeeper Paul Robinson said: "Becks is different class. World class.

"We need him. He is so important. Becks has shown again that he scores and makes vital goals for England."

Robinson added: "His free-kick got us the win against Paraguay. He set up Peter Crouch's goal that put us on our way against Trinidad and Tobago and he scored the winner against Ecuador.

"That's a major personal input whichever way you want to look at it."

All the boys are happy with the job he's doing for the team

England's Steven Gerrard

Frank Lampard also backed Beckham in the face of his doubters.

"I think he's taken some very hard criticism," said the Chelsea midfielder.

"People should get behind the captain and the team and I think the majority of people are doing that.

"There is some harsh criticism and there is no need for it, but you see the fans out here and they are right behind us."

Steven Gerrard believes the flak Beckham received helped put England through to the last eight.

He said: "I think the criticism he got before the game helped us because he went out with a point to prove and he has helped get us into the last eight.

"All the boys are happy with the job he's doing for the team. The goal was a David Beckham trademark free-kick and a few more of those would be nice."

Owen Hargreaves was another England player who acknowledged Beckham's crucial contribution to the win against Ecuador.

606 VIEW
RJ

He said: "Any time you win 1-0 the goalscorer is obviously the hero and it was Becks against Ecuador.

"His set-pieces are his strengths. He put one in and it was a great free-kick and it's won us the game.

"After that we played a bit better, created more chances and could have won 2-0.

"Becks is crucial because when you look at all the games, like Mexico against Argentina, a lot of the goals are from set-pieces.

"He is the best set-piece taker in the world and to have him in your team is a strength. It's a benefit."



SEE ALSO
Butcher unrepentant over Beckham
26 Jun 06 |  England
Terry Butcher's England view
26 Jun 06 |  England
I proved critics wrong - Beckham
25 Jun 06 |  England
England 1-0 Ecuador
25 Jun 06 |  World Cup 2006
Pick your England team
26 May 06 |  Squad selectors


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