"Quality, grit and determination"
Friday, 19 June, 2009
James Milner reflects on his goal and the win over Spain.
To watch the full video interview, click on the player at the top of the page.
James Milner was pleased with the way England played against Spain on Thursday night, and said that the Three Lions looked dangerous against a side widely tipped as pre-tournament favourities.
The Aston Villa midfielder grabbed the second goal to clinch a 2-0 win for Stuart Pearce's men and book a place in the last four of the UEFA European Under-21 Championship.
But it wasn't all plain sailing. Milner won, and then took a 33rd minute penalty that could have given a first half lead, but Sergio Asenjo was down well to his right to save and send the two teams level at the break.
But the experienced Milner says that after two games he and his team mates have shown the grit and determination that was needed to overcome Finland and then Spain and pave their way into the semi-final.
"It was a great result, we played very well, we restricted them and the only problems they caused us was from our own doing. We passed the ball very well and looked dangerous going forward," Milner told TheFA.com.
"The pitch was slightly better, but it still wasn’t great, was still a bit dry, but we’re not making excuses.
"I think we seen both sides of us. We needed that grit and determination to get through and obviously after the sending off it was a good performance and I don’t know how many teams would have been able to do that and get the winner with ten men, that was that side of us.
"I think we showed the ability we’ve got in the squad against a very good team to pass the ball. We played them at their own game if you like. We’ve shown we’ve got that quality, grit and determination, we’ve got to make sure we take that through to the last group game."
And after his penalty miss, MIlner showed his character which inspire England to victory, first setting up Campbell for 1-0, then getting on the end of Theo Walcott's pull back to smash home from close range.
"I was obviously disappointed to miss the penalty, but it’s how you bounce back from that, not just me personally but the whole team.
"The lads worked hard to get us in that position and to miss the penalty was a massive blow. We could have gone into our shells and looked at it as an opportunity missed, but we didn’t. We came out in the second half all guns blazing and got the result we deserved and that’s down to all the lads."
After picking up his second booking of the tournament, Milner will miss the last group game against Germany on Monday and will have to wait until the semi-final to add to his impressive haul of 44 caps. But he is confident that his team mates will get the right result to top Group B after seeing some excellent individual performances.
He's now determined to help England going all the way after previously suffering penalty heartache in Euroean Championship at the semi-final stage twice for the Three Lions.
"Tournament football brings out the best in players and every single player has performed very well.
"Fabrice Muamba was absolutely outstanding. Catts (Lee Cattermole) as well, Nobes (Mark Noble). That’s the key battle, you need those second balls when you’re playing teams like Spain and once they get the ball it’s very hard to get it off them, so it’s important we get more second balls that they do.
"They marshalled the midfield very well and passed the ball and kept it when we needed it."
"I’ve played in two European Championships now, one at U17s and one at Under-21s and lost on penalties to the hosts both times. It would be nice to go one better," he added.
"It’s great to be in the semis, but we need to take it a game at a time and make sure we put in a good performance against Germany.
"I think we’ve got everything that’s needed to win this tournament. We’re not dwelling on the last game, we need to look forward and look to improve."
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