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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov 18, 2007

Lampard still fears Wembley boo-boys

Frank Lampard fears the Wembley crowd could yet turn on England if their final European Championship qualifier with Croatia does not go to plan.

Players and management were expecting to be greeted with a hostile reception on Wednesday had England's Euro 2008 dream gone up in smoke last night.

But sensational victories for Israel and Macedonia over Russia and Croatia, respectively, have transformed the fortunes of Steve McClaren's side to such an extent that the crowd now appear set to get right behind the team.

Chelsea midfielder Lampard, no stranger to the boo boys for both club and country, realises he and his team-mates were a post's width away - literally in the case of Russia - from suffering abuse.

He said in the News of the World: 'The fans would have wanted to vent their frustration and we, as players, would have had to accept that. But we are professionals. We must always stand tall, hold our heads up, take the flak and walk through it.

'Yes, it would be a massive test of our character but we must face it and come through it. Obviously it will be difficult.

'No-one ever wants to be booed or abused. But we know that in the current climate it's a situation that's impossible to ignore.

'There was a very real prospect we'd be walking out on Wednesday night in front of 90,000 England fans who wanted to vent their anger and disappointment.

'There's still the chance that the mood of the England crowd will change if we don't get the result we want, that we need against Croatia.

'So we must be ready to take it and deal with it.'

Lampard remembers all to well the abuse aimed at manager McClaren during the qualifier against Andorra in March.

He said: 'I was in the crowd in Barcelona watching the qualifier against Andorra and I witnessed the anger and bitterness of certain England fans close up. It was not a pleasant experience. It was ugly and poisonous.

'But you have to accept there's a chance that Wednesday night could be even more of an ordeal for the manager and the players.'

He added: 'I have endured a lot of abuse in my time. First when I was at West Ham and now that I am at Chelsea. I have developed a thick skin and I can deal with it now.

'It just doesn't sting me anymore like it did in my early years. But it will hurt me if the Wembley crowd turns against us. We have the best fans in the world and if they get behind us they can make a huge difference.

'Having said that, if we don't get through then a lot of people are going to complain, will want to have a go and we must be big and brave enough to accept it.'