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Last Updated: Sunday, 2 July 2006, 18:04 GMT 19:04 UK
England players arrive back home
David Beckham and family
David Beckham arrives back at Stansted with his family
England's World Cup squad have arrived back home after their quarter-final defeat at the hands of Portugal.

They left Baden Baden in Germany on board a British Airways jet and have landed at Stansted Airport in Essex.

Outgoing coach Sven-Goran Eriksson led the team down the steps, followed by David Beckham, who has quit as captain.

The northern-based members of the squad then took off again for Manchester Airport but the plane has been diverted to Liverpool because of a heavy storm.

The players and coaching staff at Stansted shared an emotional farewell before being driven away in a fleet of cars.

Also on the flight from Germany were Football Association officials, plus wives and girlfriends who had stayed in a five-star hotel for nearly a month.

However, Wayne Rooney boarded the plane alone looking grim faced after his World Cup sending off with no sign of his fiancee Coleen McLoughlin.

But a spokesman for the couple denied there had been a bust-up between them insisting Coleen and members of her family had always been booked to fly back on a scheduled flight.

About 150 England fans braved the sweltering conditions at Stansted and many were wearing shirts with Beckham's name in tribute to the departing skipper.

Had England won the tournament in Germany they would have landed at the northern section of the airport where fans could have greeted them.

Despite the disappointment of losing on penalties to Portugal in Saturday's quarter-final, the crowd - many of whom were children - applauded the squad's arrival.

But there was some disappointment that the players were quickly driven away without signing autographs or shaking hands with those who had turned up to greet them.

The inquest into England's exit is likely to focus on Eriksson's failure to land a major trophy during his five-and-a-half-year reign.

England fans greet the team at Stansted
England fans greet the team at Stansted

But striker Wayne Rooney will also have to shoulder his share of criticism after his dismissal, which forced England to play with 10 men for almost an hour.

Rooney was shown a straight red card by Argentine referee Horacio Elizondo after appearing to stamp on Portugal defender Ricardo Carvalho.

Media criticism of Eriksson has focused on his tactics, squad selection and his 4m-a-year salary.

Eriksson's critics claim his selection policy dictated his cautious approach, and he has been accused of wasting what many believed to have been the most talented squad at the disposal of an England coach for 40 years.

In Rooney and Michael Owen, Eriksson picked two strikers whose fitness was in doubt, while Peter Crouch was always seen as a stop-gap for emergencies.

Eriksson's other striking selection, teenager Theo Walcott, was never used by the England coach during the tournament.

Pundits have pointed to his lack of striking resources as a contributing factor to Rooney's dismissal, with the Manchester United striker's frustration at being forced to plough a lone furrow, spilling over.



SEE ALSO
Beckham quits as England captain
02 Jul 06 |  England
England's return in pictures
02 Jul 06 |  World Cup 2006
Have your say on the World Cup
28 Apr 06 |  Football
BBC World Cup coverage
27 Apr 06 |  BBC coverage


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