Wednesday, 20 June, 2012
England midfielder says Three Lions have commitment in abundance.
After helping his country reach the knock-out stages of Euro 2012, Scott Parker pointed at England’s commitment and belief within the camp as a key factor to their success so far.
Outside the camp, expectancy levels heading to Poland and Ukraine were not as high as in previous years. But as victory over the co-hosts on Tuesday night secured top spot in Group D and a quarter-final meeting with Italy, the Tottenham Hotspur midfielder said the players were always positive about their hopes.
“I don't know if we've exceeded them,” he said, “We had a belief inside the camp. We've come out here and we knew what our aim was and it was to win the group. We've achieved that.
Parker, England’s Player of the Year in 2011, continued: “Belief and believing in what you can do goes a long way in general life, not just in football. This squad has shown that if you believe, you're positive and you're confident you can do well.
“We now look forward to the quarter final against Italy. We get an extra day now, which is key for us, we'll go and prepare for that game like we've prepared for all the others, and hopefully we can get the result.”
England are still unbeaten five games into Roy Hodgson’s reign as Manager, and have conceded just three goals. Parker says the organisation that the new boss has brought to the side, added to the commitment of the players, has been fundamental in the Three Lions run to the last-eight.
“He's very organised and you can see from the way we set up that we're hard to break down,” said Parker. “We showed that again [against Ukraine]. Our commitment and everything else is in abundance so hopefully we can carry on showing that.
“Fundamentally you need that as a side. From that, hopefully as the competition progresses, we can get more confident then, just maybe we can upset it and keep going.”
Finishing top of the group also ensures England avoid Spain, and while Parker concedes that his team may not be as good as the current World and European Champions – a side they beat at Wembley in November - if they keep on playing their own style they can continue to progress in this competition.
On Sunday England return to Kiev, where they beat Sweden last week, to take on an Italian side who came through Group C after a victory over Ireland and two draws with Croatia and the Spanish.
The Three Lions haven’t faced the Italians for ten years, when they lost 2-0 at Elland Road, and have only managed seven wins in a total of 22 meetings with the Azzurri.
In their squad this time is the enigmatic Manchester City forward Mario Balotelli, who netted against the Irish on Monday, and Parker is well aware of what to expect from him.
“He's been in the Premier League for a year now and we've all seen how brilliant he can be and what he can bring. He's a very good player and someone we are going to have to keep our eye on,” said the former West Ham man.
"Everyone talks about Spain and how great they are at passing the ball, not every team is as good as Spain, that's the reality. There's not many teams who have been as good as Spain since I've been alive, so to think we are all of a sudden we are going to turn into that is not what it's going to be.
"We are what we are, we're committed, we've got a good base, a good bunch of lads and with that you can go a long way.
"The more we progress we put more pressure on ourselves. We'll keep taking it step by step and then who knows..?"