England's Johnson nonplussed by Euro 2012 critics

AFP, Friday 22 Jun 2012

Johnson claims England squad deserves more respect for reaching the European Championship quarter-finals

Glen Johnson
England soccer player Johnson challenges Jones during a training session for Euro 2012 at the Hutnik stadium in Krakow (Photo: Reuters)

England defender Glen Johnson shrugged off criticism of his team's performances on Friday, saying the squad deserved more respect for reaching the European Championship quarter-finals.

Speaking to reporters ahead of England training, Johnson said England were unfazed by pundits and former players who had bemoaned the defence-based approach of Roy Hodgson's team.

England topped Group D with wins over Ukraine and Sweden and a draw with France which leaves them contemplating a quarter-final against Italy in Kiev.

Asked if he believed England's achievements at the Euros were worthy of more respect, Johnson replied: "Yeah, I guess so.

"But, inside the camp, no-one thinks like that. It's only people outside the camp. So, it's not really important," he said.

Johnson was also asked if he believed that England's style of play would be capable of carrying them beyond the last eight.

"If we win 1-0 again, then yes it will," Johnson said. "I've always said we've set out to be hard to beat.

"Any team that's in the tournament has got a chance of winning it. Sunday is a one-off game and in a one-off game you can beat anyone."

Johnson also welcomed the renewed interest in England from supporters who had been left disenchanted with the national side after the disastrous 2010 World Cup campaign in South Africa.

An estimated British TV audience of 18.5 million people watched Tuesday's win over Ukraine, a figure that could well be topped on Sunday.

As many as 10,000 are also reportedly planning to descend on Kiev ahead of the quarter-final.

Johnson said a new bond was developing with players: "I'd agree with that.

"I've just been told about the record rating of viewers for the game.

"The fans are there to support and it feels like we're a big, tight unit."

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