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McClaren pays tribute to Beckham

Steve McClaren paid tribute to the man he had axed from the England set-up after David Beckham guided his team to a 3-0 win over Estonia.

sports Updated: Jun 07, 2007 13:17 IST
Trevor Huggins

Steve McClaren paid tribute to the man he had axed from the England set-up after David Beckham guided his team to a 3-0 Euro 2008 qualifying win over Estonia on Wednesday.

Joe Cole gave England a 37th minute lead and Beckham lined up second half strikes for Peter Crouch and Michael Owen to put them back in the race to qualify from Group E.

Asked to judge the contribution from Beckham, who McClaren had ignored since the World Cup until last Friday's friendly 1-1 draw with Brazil, the England coach declared it "immense."

Highlighting that Beckham was also behind England's goal against the Brazilians, McClaren said: "Three of the four goals, he's set up.

"That's why he's in the squad, that's why he's in the team. David Beckham is a very, very good player and he deserves to be in our team.

"He got a knock early on but he didn't want to come off. When he's playing like that, he's invaluable to us."

Beckham told Sky Sports News: "I've enjoyed the two weeks we've been together, it's nice to be back with the lads.

"Tonight we've done the job. We scored the goals, played some good football at times.

"Confidence is gradually coming back into the team and so it should be."

England campaign

After a fitful campaign to date, England's victory moved them on to 14 points, behind Russia on 15 and Israel and leaders Croatia on 17.

"We've put ourselves back in the group, we've put ourselves in a good position and it's up to us," McClaren said.

"This was a big result for us. We had to win and we've won it comfortably."

Estonia coach Jelle Goes, whose men lost 1-0 to Croatia on Saturday and who will not be renewing his contract when it expires in November, also pinpointed Beckham as the key.

"We knew it would be a difficult game against a strong team like England and that the game against Croatia had taken a lot of energy.

"It was clear from the first half that the rest of the England team were looking for Beckham and he put in some great crosses."

As for the second half, he added: "That's why Beckham is back in the team. Two great deliveries, 2-0, 3-0 and the game is closed."

First Published: Jun 07, 2007 13:15 IST