LONDON: England coach Sven Goran Eriksson insisted on Thursday that David Beckham will overcome the current turmoil in his private life and play a major role in the country's assault on the Euro 2004 Finals.
“I have spoken to him several times, as I normally do. He's okay. I suppose he could have done without this,” said Eriksson who was guest at a fans' forum at the headquarters of the Football Association.
“When he pulls on the England shirt, he will be very focussed on what to do. It will be no problem.
“If he doesn't have a good tournament, the only reason will be fitness level, injuries or whatever.”
England skipper Beckham has been at the centre of a tabloid feeding frenzy over the last two weeks with two women claiming to have had affairs with him.
Eriksson also took the opportunity to criticise the treatment being handed out to the Real Madrid star by the media who have lavished page after page to the alleged flings.
“The fact is that football needs the press and the press needs football,” said the England coach.
“The press in this country is very powerful, and as long as they talk about football, if they criticise, I have to accept it.
“What I have never understood in this country is the huge interest in your private life, and I have to accept it because I can't do anything about it, but I never understood it.
“In the country I am from, Sweden, and in Italy, it was about football, not your private life.
“It's much better to be on the back page than the front page.”
Meanwhile, Eriksson said he hoped that English fans will behave themselves at the Euro 2004 Finals in Portugal this summer.
European football's governing body, UEFA, has threatened to expel England from the tournament if there is any repeat of past hooliganism.
“It will be a small disaster if we leave early for football reasons, it would be a real disaster if we do so for other reasons.”
On England's chances of winning a first European title, the Swede said: “England can win, I always believe that, and we have shown it many times, especially in competitive games, and I always say that if we are lucky, all the players are fit, no injuries, I think we can beat anyone.” – AFP