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Several members of England’s World Cup squad have leapt to the defence of captain David Beckham after he answered critics with the winning goal against Ecuador.

There had been calls for Beckham to be dropped, but his free-kick sealed a quarter-final tie against Portugal and almost certainly cemented his place in the side.

England goalkeeper Paul Robinson said: “Becks is different class. World class.

“We need him. He is so important. Becks has shown again that he scores and makes vital goals for England.

“His free-kick got us the win against Paraguay. He set up Peter Crouch’s goal that put us on our way against Trinidad and Tobago and he scored the winner against Ecuador.

“That’s a major personal input whichever way you want to look at it.”

Frank Lampard also offered support to Beckham.

“I think he’s taken some very hard criticism,” said the Chelsea midfielder.

“People should get behind the captain and the team and I think the majority of people are doing that.

“There is some harsh criticism and there is no need for it, but you see the fans out here and they are right behind us.”

Steven Gerrard believes the critcicism Beckham received helped England on Sunday.

“I think the criticism he got before the game helped us because he went out with a point to prove and he has helped get us into the last eight,” said Gerrard.

“All the boys are happy with the job he’s doing for the team. The goal was a David Beckham trademark free-kick and a few more of those would be nice.”

Owen Hargreaves joined in the chorus of support for the England skipper.

He said: “Any time you win 1-0 the goalscorer is obviously the hero and it was Becks against Ecuador.

“His set-pieces are his strengths. He put one in and it was a great free-kick and it’s won us the game.

“After that we played a bit better, created more chances and could have won 2-0.

“Becks is crucial because when you look at all the games, like Mexico against Argentina, a lot of the goals are from set-pieces.

“He is the best set-piece taker in the world and to have him in your team is a strength. It’s a benefit.”

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