Rio Ferdinand has admitted that it would be a catastrophe if England fail to qualify for next summer’s European Championships.
England face two crucial qualifiers in the next seven days against Israel and Russia, with a minimum of four points required if Steve McClaren’s side are to maintain hopes of qualifying for the Euro 2008 finals.
Although England currently lie fourth in the group, Ferdinand is confident they will eventually reach Austria and Switzerland next summer.
“I cannot even contemplate not qualifying,” said Ferdinand. “If, God forbid, we failed, it would be a catastrophe; a massive disappointment for us, the fans and the country as a whole.”
“But we have four of our last five games at home, so we couldn’t ask to be in a better position and we have a great opportunity”
England were booed following their 2-1 home defeat to Germany at Wembly last month, and Ferdinand admits he understands their frustration.
“The fans pay their money to get through the doors, so they can show their frustrations in any way they want,” Ferdinand said.
“But we do need them behind us on Saturday, so it is up to us to play the football to get them there.”
Ferdinand acknowledges he is part of a so-called golden generation of English players who are rapidly running out of time to win an international tournament.
“What has happened to me before gives me extra motivation,” he said. “I have been to a few World Cups, and enjoyed the occasions, and I really really want to do something in the European Championships.”
“This is a time when we really need to put our stamp on things. Clearly, we need to qualify first, but it is an opportunity for this generation of players to hold our heads up high and say we achieved something with England.”