Monday, 27 August 2007

The History Boy

The History Boy
By Russell Staves

With a cultured swing of his right boot, Jordan Spence made history at the Goyang Stadium on Friday night. With England and Brazil locked at 1-1 in injury-time, the Three Lions skipper cleverly diverted Henri Lansbury's shot past Marcelo's outstretched right hand before embarking on a joyous celebration. Not only did the West Ham's defender's goal ensure his country topped Group B, it meant England beat Brazil for the first time ever at a FIFA Finals.

"It's a blur now," said Spence as he tried to recall his moment of history. "When the ball fell to Henri I was pleased as of all the people it could have landed to, he has scored some great goals from the edge of the area. But he did not seem to catch it right. I managed to stay onside, I just wanted to direct it towards goal. I did not see the ball hit the back of the net. As soon as I made contact I was gone. It was the biggest buzz. Crazy. Just one of those feelings where I wish I could hit a rewind button and go through it all again."

Spence has enjoyed much success since taking the captain's armband at U16 level but, for a pure adrenaline rush, his goal against Brazil takes some beating. "There are a few highlights - The European Championship Final and how we got there, and qualifying in Bosnia, but for a sheer moment of joy, this is up there," he added.

Like the rest of his team-mates, Spence was always confident England would emerge victorious from their meeting with Brazil. While the small contingent of England fans feared the worst when Tales' 40-yard free-kick deceived Alex Smithies in the England goal, Spence remained unruffled. "It was a freak goal," he insisted. "But football can change in a matter of seconds so we never thought it wouldn't be our day just because that went in."

England equalised through Lansbury's penalty at the end of the first half, but there was another twist to the tale when Brazil won an 82nd minute penalty. But Smithies guessed right, diving to his left to parry Lulinha's penalty and keep England in with a chance of victory. "Alex has got a great record at saving penalties," said the captain. "I think he's saved five for England - that's ridiculous. He got us out of trouble. That gave us a big boost. I thought 'let's go and win it now'."

And England did just that, with Spence's instinctive finish the difference between the sides. "Hopefully we have sent a message out to the other teams and to the public who doubted us at the start of the tournament that we are here to win it," said the captain. "We have the capabilities to do so. We will enjoy the moment, but we will push this to one side and concentrate on who we will play in the next round."

Spence was adamant that the bar of expectation has not been raised in light of the win as the team were always aiming to reach the top of the mountain from the moment they left for Korea. "The aim was always to win the World Cup," he said. "If you are not here to win it then there's no point being here. We set the initial objective of winning the group and we have done that. The next objective is to win our game in the last-16. But ultimately the goal is to win the World Cup. If we play to our potential there is no reason why we can't do that."

Taken from The

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