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World Soccer: Fans are showing an unusually pessimistic attitude towards England’s chances at Euro 2012. Is this disappointing or, perversely, quite liberating?

Scott Parker: It’s difficult to say – I guess you can look at it both ways. I do think we have every right to be confident we can put together some good performances. We’re a good team and should always remember that fact. Maybe less hype will help us though. Who knows? In previous tournaments there has been a hell of a lot of expectation.

What can people expect from England at the tournament?

You’ll see a group of players giving everything for their country. You can’t ask more than that. Sure it’ll be tough because you could say this tournament will be harder than the World Cup to win. The likes of Spain, Germany, France, Holland and I’d say ourselves – the list goes on – are all top sides.

But can England win Euro 2012?

I always say that anything can happen in football. I probably know better than most that things can change very quickly. I wasn’t really part of it [the England set-up] less than 18 months ago and now, thankfully, I’m playing games and looking forward to the Euros. So yeah, of course we can win it. We came through a tough qualification group and achieved our goal. That was fantastic. At the same time I’m not going to sit here and make any grand claims or predictions. I’m just focusing on one game at a time, just like I always do.

Spain seem imperious though…

They are probably the favourites and deservedly so. But I have to be honest and say there won’t be any fear towards them or any of the other teams. As individuals and as a group we should look forward to testing ourselves against the very best.

Contrary to the criticism aimed at some of your colleagues, you seem genuinely proud to pull on the England shirt…

Who wouldn’t be? Every young boy would love to have the honour of representing their country and I’m no different. Neither are my team-mates, I’m sure. Maybe it means a lot to me because I spent so long on the fringes and couldn’t seem to get over that final hurdle. Now I’m part of things I’ll do everything to ensure I stay there.

Are you a throwback to a different era of football?

I’m not sure what that means. I play the game for the love of it, not all the other stuff, if that’s the question. Maybe I’m old-fashioned or just boring!

But you must enjoy the “British Bulldog” tag?

If it means people think I’m giving everything, I’ll take it. I just know my qualities, what I can and can’t do. My
job is to get about the opposition, close down the space, get the tackles in and then hopefully find a team-mate with a pass. I appreciate my role and just get on with it without, hopefully, too much fuss.

What is the difference between the Scott Parker of, say, two years ago and the one we see now?

I’m a more confident footballer. Although relegation at West Ham was painful, the experience of playing every week, learning more about my game was important. Maybe as a young man I’d worry too much about things. Today I never take anything for granted but I also think I belong at this level. It took a while for that mindset to sink in. I’m just glad I got there in the end.

Interview by Frank Tennyson

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