England players insist there will be no club rivalries in South Africa.
Michael Carrick insists England's players will put club rivalry aside when Fabio Capello’s team fly to Austria for a World Cup training camp today (Monday) with the motto: Together We’re Stronger.
Stars from Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal – not to mention Tottenham, Manchester City and Aston Villa – have been fighting it out for eight months in one of the most hotly-contested Premier League races in years.
But now they must join forces – and Carrick says they are being inspired by the team’s new charity initiative.
The entire squad has agreed to send their match fees to charity and will be backing a campaign to raise awareness of their charity partners during the World Cup.
Charities that will benefit include WellChild, Childrens Hospices UK, the Bobby Moore Fund, the PFA and the Team England Footballer’s Charity Outreach Programme – with players having already made dozens of appearances as part of the campaign and raised more than £1m so far.
Carrick said: “We all agreed we wanted to give something back and it’s an honour for the boys to contribute in this way and to help people out who aren’t as fortunate as ourselves.
“The motto for the campaign is Together We’re Stronger and that’s a great message for the team as well because be really to be successful as a team and as a squad you have to be together.
"The camaraderie and the spirit with England is very good considering everyone’s playing for different clubs and we come together only for certain parts of the year.
“I promise you we are a really tight-knit unit. It’s like a big family really for six weeks at a big tournament."
Carrick insists it won’t feel weird joining forces with players from Chelsea, who just pipped United to the title on the final day of the league campaign, or even with opponents from deadly rivals Manchester City.
He said: “I think it’s just something we do, something we’ve got used to over the last few years.
“You’re fighting against other players and other clubs but once you go with England you’re with England and you put the past behind you and you look forward to the next game or the next tournament and that’s exactly the case this summer.
“It was a really tight title race but we all said whoever comes out on top, once we meet up with England the focus is the World Cup and hopefully we can be successful together.”
Manchester City star Shaun Wright-Phillips insists United and City players will stand side by side in South Africa this summer and be proud to wear the same shirt.
He said: "It's very easy because we've got a bigger task ahead of us to think about and a goal to achieve for us, the supporters and the nation.
"Once we're together we all become one. I think it's strange for the outside world to see that but it's like we've known each other all our lives."
Liverpool star Steven Gerrard also believes England's team spirit – and their charity work – will be key to doing well in the World Cup finals.
He said: "I think that one of the strong points of this squad is the togetherness and the team spirit. It is a similar message to the one we are sending out to our charity partners. If we all do stick together I really believe we can achieve something both on the field and off it."