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Last Updated: Sunday, 2 July 2006, 22:17 GMT 23:17 UK
England tipped to mount recovery
By Phil McNulty
Chief Football Writer in Baden Baden

Sven-Goran Eriksson
Eriksson speaks against a backdrop of beaten England players
Sven-Goran Eriksson quit as England coach convinced they will one day end the years of World Cup hurt.

England's sequence without a triumph will stretch to at least 44 years after their quarter-final exit on penalties against Portugal.

As Swede Eriksson prepared to step down, he said: "It will happen in the future. England is almost there.

"It seems a long time and there are few opportunities, but England will win a big tournament."

"If you look at how we are playing and how others are playing, England is not number two to anyone."

Eriksson, who will be succeeded by Steve McClaren, added: "The problem with international football is that the big tournaments are only every second year.

"It is a long time to wait for the next one. The next World Cup is four years.

"It's different when you talk about winning the Premier League, the Champions League or the Uefa Cup.

"You have that chance every year, but I am certain England will win a tournament one day.

"I was convinced this year was the right time, but I was wrong and I'm very sorry about that."

The atmosphere and spirit in the group was fantastic

Sven-Goran Eriksson
And he faced his critics to accept the blame for England's latest big tournament failure.

He said: "I will take responsibility for whatever you want.

"I've tried to do the best I can. If that's not good enough you can say whatever you want.

"We shouldn't have gone out. It's our fault. We can't blame anyone else. I will take the blame, no problem.

"When you talk about penalties, I just don't know what happens. I was sure.

"We were very good in training almost every day, but we couldn't handle it and that's very bad."

Eriksson also insisted England could not have been better prepared for the heatwave conditions that confronted them in Germany.

He said: "The preparation was perfect, fitness levels were perfect.

"We handled the heat very well, we've been preparing and taking advice from specialists about the heat.

"The atmosphere and spirit in the group was fantastic and you could see it on the pitch before the penalties."

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