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Lampard's feet on the ground

LONDON, January 19 – Frank Lampard is adamant England will not get swept up in the hype surrounding their prospects at this year's World Cup in South Africa.
England may have won the World Cup just once, on home soil in 1966, but every subsequent appearance they have made at a major football tournament has sparked hopes of a similar outcome among their fans.

Chelsea midfielder Lampard was a member of the England squad at the 2006 World Cup in Germany where the team lost in the quarter-finals to Portugal after some players had suggested they could win the event.

During Fabio Capello’s two years in charge of England the team has undergone a major upsurge in fortunes, from failing to qualify for Euro 2008 under former boss Steve McClaren to World Cup contenders.

But the Italian is not one for getting carried away and friendly defeats by Brazil, France and Spain have served to reinforce awareness of the scale of the task facing England in South Africa.

Meanwhile Lampard is confident England have learnt their lessons from four years ago.

"There’s an inner confidence within the squad but I don’t think we’re thinking about winning the trophy. We’ve been here before," he said.

"The experienced players who have been here before know that it doesn’t really matter what you say before the tournament or what your form’s like a few months before the tournament, what really matters is how you play when you get there.

"You get asked the question a million times – ‘Can you win it?’ and the obvious answer is ‘Yes we can if we are playing well,’ but you have to go there and win it.

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"With the squad we have got and the way we have played, we are doing everything right but when we go there we have to do everything right there."

Lampard – the guest of honour at a Football Writers’ Association dinner in London on Sunday – knows that at the age of 31 this is likely to be his last World Cup.

"This year is a big year for me," he said. "It’s obviously a World Cup year so it’s career defining. If we were to go there and win it then who knows what would happen after that?"

Before the World Cup gets underway in June, Lampard has the chance to win yet more club honours with Chelsea, the Premier League leaders.

"I don’t think I’ll become distracted by the World Cup," said Lampard, who has been capped 76 times by England.

"When I play for my club you get into the zone about playing club football. I don’t look too far ahead.

"It’s nice when the draw comes around, you get excited and when it gets nearer you get more excited but there’s too much going on at Chelsea, it’s too important.

"We are in everything at the moment so we are focused completely on that. Hopefully when it comes to the end of the season I’ll be confident after winning things with Chelsea and go to the World Cup."

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