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Oct 12, 2009

Lampard believes England can finally be successful

England midfielder Frank Lampard believes the team can finally deliver in South Africa, four years after the "Golden Generation" were tipped for glory.

It was former Football Association chief executive Adam Crozier, now in charge of the Royal Mail which is beset by industrial action, who gave the promising England players that tag. They failed to get past the quarter-finals in Germany after a series of lacklustre performances.

Lampard bemoaned the fact that the England players had to carry that moniker around with them so long, acting as an albatross around their necks. But under Fabio Capello the Chelsea star believes that could all change when the next World Cup comes around, now that many consider that group of players to be past their best years.

"It was frustrating. As players we just went out and played but it kept getting mentioned,'' he revealed. "By calling us that it was almost as if people were waiting for us to fail. The golden generation should only be said once you have won something.

"The team that won the World Cup in 1966 was a golden generation. It was said much too early about us but people picked up on it. We are very talented individuals but we have not made the most of it. We have all held our hands up to that many times.

"Now is a great chance. I am not saying we are going to win the World Cup but we are in better shape. The team is working much better as a unit than it has done in the past. We have good individuals, we are experienced and we have World Cups behind us.

"But the proof will be in the pudding. It is up to us to take all those plus points and use them next summer.''

Lampard also came to the defence of Emile Heskey, who many believe does not score enough goals to warrant a starting berth.

"Emile is not a prolific scorer but he does a lot more,'' said Lampard. "The results we have had when he has been in the team are well documented. When you ask the other strikers who they like to play with, Emile is always mentioned.

"If that means the focus is on me to score with England more often it is no problem. People like myself and Steven Gerrard have scored goals for our clubs. There should be pressure on us to do it for England. We put pressure on ourselves to score goals.''

Lampard was also quick to defend Rio Ferdinand, who has had a poor season so far and has come in for criticism for his performance in the defeat to Ukraine on Saturday.

"The universal view is that Rio has been one of the most consistent central defenders in Europe over the last five years,'' he said. "He would be the first one to say he made a mistake on Saturday, but I would much rather make a mistake against Ukraine than when the big games start.

"That is when you need big players. Rio has played in two World Cups and been outstanding in both of them. That says it all really.''

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