Milner: I owe World Cup success to David Beckham
Published 23:00 24/06/10 By John Cross
James Milner last night paid tribute to David Beckham for giving him the belief he can deliver World Cup glory for England.
Beckham, 35, has been helping Fabio Capello’s squad at their training base in Rustenburg after being invited to be part of England’s set-up.
Aston Villa midfielder Milner has been benefiting from the former England captain’s advice and even admitted he hopes Beckham would have been proud of his crossing against Slovenia.
Milner set up Jermain Defoe’s winner with an inch-perfect delivery from the right and he admitted that Beckham has been a real inspiration for him.
“Since I’ve come into the England squad over the last year or so, I have been in the squad with David Beckham and I have watched him in training,” said Milner.
“Before a game he’ll come over and have a chat to you and say what he thinks about the game and give you the odd word of advice.
“It’s fantastic to have a player of his quality and experience about the place, to give the wide players and everyone else a lift, and have a word when it’s needed.
“If David had of been proud of my cross for Jermain, then great. It was nice to contribute and it was a good finish from JD because we have worked a lot on crossing and finishing.
“There has been a lot of talk about the ball with keepers and defenders, but it’s not easy to get on the end of the crosses as well. The ball is moving around, so it is a good finish from Jermain.”
While Becks is using the World Cup as a chance to improve his own fitness on the training ground after his Achilles injury, it is clear he has become something of a father figure and inspiration even if he is not doing any actual coaching.
Milner has also used Beckham as a support mechanism, particularly after the Villa wideman’s “devastating” World Cup debut.
Struck down by a bug just before the first game with the USA, Milner missed training but still started on the left and had to be substituted after just half an hour.
Milner was axed for the Algeria game and admits he was relieved that his nightmare against the USA was not his only contribution in South Africa.
Milner said: “When you don’t train for three days and you lose a lot of weight before a World Cup, it’s obviously not great timing and I obviously wasn’t feeling 100 per cent.
“Once I was booked, the manager thought it was the right thing for the team to sub me. It was disappointing for me, but it’s not about personal issues and how I feel, it’s about what’s best for England. So it was the right decision.
“I would have bee pretty devastated if that had been my last contribution to this World Cup. It’s my first World Cup and you don’t imagine your first game coming to an end after an half-an-hour.
“It was obviously disappointing, but whatever’s best for the team and to get a second chance to start in a big game and manage to contribute to a win was great.
“We started slowly in the tournament and we know we’re still not where we can play. But we are getting better and I’m sure we’d all rather start the tournament poorly and get better, rather than the other way round.
“It’s up to us to get better and learn from the game videos, and, hopefully, improve again at the weekend.”