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Zenit sign Bart Simpson

The Toe Poke 6 hours ago
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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug 15, 2006

Terry targets 'next level' of performance

New England captain John Terry has ordered his troops to ignore their own publicity and prove they have what it takes to succeed at the highest level.

Sven-Goran Eriksson's side travelled to the World Cup finals in Germany this summer confident they could return with the trophy.

However, as they had done at the previous two finals, they left empty-handed at the quarter-final stage to face accusations of under-achievement.

With the Swede having departed and Steve McClaren ready to launch a new era in tomorrow night's friendly with Greece at Old Trafford, Terry and his team-mates know the time has come for the talking to stop.

He said: 'We have had a chat among ourselves and we need to take it to that next level, to put the performances in.

'Forget everyone saying we are a good side or we are not a good side - we realise we need to show we are a very good side against some great teams, and we can only do that with performances and results.'

The 25-year-old Chelsea captain will lead his side out for the first time after taking over the armband from David Beckham, and admits he will be nervous as well as excited.

He said: 'It is nerves as well as excitement.

'It is something I am going to remember for the rest of my life, so I am going to try to take it all in and just enjoy the night.

'It is something I am very, very much looking forward to and I cannot wait for it now.'

Having proved himself a more than capable skipper at Stamford Bridge, Terry insists he will adopt a similar style with his country, although he revealed the experience of meeting up with his colleagues for the first time since being appointed as Beckham's successor was odd.

Terry said: 'It did feel a little bit strange, actually. It felt nice going into the room knowing I was captain, and I was really proud.

'The lads made me feel really welcome, and it was a nice atmosphere to walk into.

'The boys had lunch and everyone shook my hand and just congratulated me.'

The Greece game represents the beginning of McClaren's preparations for the vital Euro 2008 qualifiers against Andorra and Macedonia next month and, after the disappointments of Germany, there is an awareness throughout the squad that a marker needs to be laid down.

To that end, Terry is determined to begin his own tenure with a morale-boosting victory against the reigning European champions to send out a message to the rest of the Continent.

Asked what his hopes were for tomorrow night, Terry - who will retain the pre-kick-off huddle - said: 'A very good performance.

'It is a chance for us to go out there, put on a great show and lift the fans after the disappointment from the World Cup.

'That is something we are all aware of as players and something we want to do.'