England captain John Terry has insisted that his team will put the past behind them when they face Croatia in Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier in Zagreb.
England, who beat Andorra 2-0 on Saturday, suffered two defeats at the hands of Croatia in the Euro 2008 qualifiers and consequently failed to progress to the championships.
But whilst Terry admits there is a score to settle, he insists that they are not haunted by the demons of their previous failings.
He said: “We owe them one – but it is a fresh campaign, a fresh start. Of course, what happened two years ago is at the back of the players’ minds. But it is not revenge that we are looking for, it’s three points again just like Andorra.”
England’s 2-0 win against Andorra on Saturday was laboured at times and they will be looking to improve on Wednesday, when they can expect a significant step up in class.
Former captain David Beckham is fully aware of the threat posed by Croatia, who twice beat England under much-maligned coach Steve McClaren – defeats which proved a humbling experience for the squad.
But Beckham, who came off the bench to replace the impressive Theo Walcott against Andorra, is adamant that England will not dwell on those disappointments.
He said: “We have to forget about what has gone on in the past. This is the present, this is 2008 not 2006, and we have to work towards what we want to achieve in this qualifying group. It is about getting a good performance and a good result in Zagreb. We know it is going to be a very tough game and a different challenge from Saturday night.”
England were expected to sweep aside Andorra but a drab first half led to the team being booed off the pitch at the interval, and Terry admitted the players felt the supporters’ frustration.
He said: “We had to be patient even though the fans were getting frustrated but eventually they stuck with us and got their reward.”