England have come out fighting after a French journalist questioned the Three Lions’ status as a major football nation ahead of today’s Euro 2012 Group D opener with Les Bleus in Donetsk. Roy Hodgson will lead England into Euro 2012 (Picture: PA) England’s miserable record since winning the 1966 World Cup led one reporter to question whether they can still be considered a serious international power, drawing a stinging response from boss Roy Hodgson and his captain Steven Gerrard. Speaking of England’s World Cup win, Hodgson said: ‘You didn’t actually need to remind me. That has crossed my mind on one or two occasions. It’s a fact of life. ‘But I think before the very good French period [winning the World Cup in 1998 and Euro 2000] we could have levelled a similar accusation against them. As a top nation, we haven’t won as many tournaments as we should, or done as well as we should. ‘Of course we feel the weight of history. We all feel that weight and there’s nothing we can do to take it off our shoulders except make certain we embrace the tournament, that we are not afraid of it and that we believe in ourselves.’ Skipper Gerrard was even more forthright in his rejection of the pointed enquiry. ‘Questions like that are more of a motivation,’ said the midfielder. ‘I don’t see them as something to react to or an accusation. ‘It comes more from not performing in tournaments. But three times we have been a penalty kick away from getting to the last four. ‘If we had done, people’s perceptions would have been a lot different. ‘I have belief in my team-mates. I see it in training, I see it week in, week out in the Premier League.’
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