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Last Updated: Saturday, 22 November, 2003, 12:08 GMT
Johnson praises Wilkinson
England captain Martin Johnson
England captain Martin Johnson paid tribute to Jonny Wilkinson after the fly-half's last-gasp drop goal sealed victory for his side in the Rugby World Cup final.

Wilkinson converted the crucial kick - his first success from four drop goal attempts during the final in Sydney - with just 20 seconds left of extra-time to seal a famous 20-17 victory.

"It was a huge effort by the entire squad of players, coaches and backroom staff, everybody. Thanks to the fans, they were incredible," Johnson said.

"I can't say enough about the team, because we had the lead and we lost it but we came back. And I can't say enough about Wilko at the end.

It hasn't sunk in yet - it will take a few days
Martin Johnson
"You've got to give credit to Australia, they're a very good team and they made it very difficult for us.

"I'm just for happy for the players, they've put their heart and soul into it. It couldn't have been any closer and I'm just happy I'm on the right side."

Johnson became the first captain of his country to lift the Webb Ellis trophy, as England took rugby union's glittering golden prize home to Europe for the first time.

"It hasn't sunk in. It will take a few days to sink in - it is fantastic for all the players, the management and the whole of England," he said.

Johnson also predicted that Wilkinson would succeed him as England captain.

"He is a lot more famous than me. I think he will probably captain England one day if he wants to, if he chooses to," he added.

"I am sure he will be given that option one day."

But the England captain repeated his disbelief for the criticism Wilkinson had been getting during the tournament.

"There is a lot of pressure on him and he gets built up to a degree where people expect superhuman stuff from him and most of the stuff he does is verging on that.

"To call him a kicker doesn't do him justice because the work he puts in on the field and in all aspects of his game is fantastic.

"He is a very special player, a very special person."





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