herald

Wednesday 12 December 2018

I ignored racism -- Walcott

English win amid monkey chants by Bulgaria fans

England winger Theo Walcott admitted he clearly heard the racist chanting that marred last night's 3-0 Euro 2012 qualifying win over Bulgaria.

Monkey chants could be heard from the home section of the crowd in a throwback to the bad old days of supporter unrest.

England have experienced similar problems in eastern Europe before, and for Walcott it was not an experience he wants to dwell on.

"I was aware (of the chants). It was very clear," said the Arsenal star.

"I ignored it. But that is me. I think the FA will deal with that and I don't want to comment. The result was the important thing."

Coach Fabio Capello confirmed he had not heard the chanting over the usual crowd noise as he was so focused on his side's performance.

"I didn't hear it. I was focused on the game," confirmed Capello, whose captain, John Terry, expressed his revulsion.

"You don't expect that at all," the Chelsea man said. "It was a great spectacle for everyone to watch this evening.

"Let's not let that spoil it."

Capello expects to have Wayne Rooney available for England's qualifier with Wales at Wembley on Tuesday. Rooney suffered a foot injury in the latter stages of last night's win.

Given the 25-year-old's past metatarsal problems, Capello could be excused a night of stress and worry.

However, the England boss confirmed the knock was to a different part of Rooney's foot and that his number one striker should be fit to face Gary Speed's resurgent side.

"Rooney has a problem with his foot but I think he should be okay for Tuesday," said Capello.

"It's a different part of his foot. His big toe. It's nothing, I think, but we will have to wait for a minimum of 24 hours.

"I saw him on the bed in the dressing room with the physio speaking with him, but I'm not sure what's really happened."

After just one goal in his previous 15 games, Rooney moved on to 28 international goals with his eighth England brace, heading home Stewart Downing's corner before tapping in at the far post after some excellent approach work from Theo Walcott and Ashley Young.

Nigel Worthington expects Steven Davis to bounce back after his error dealt Northern Ireland's hopes of reaching Euro 2012 a critical blow.

Davis gifted Serbia the only goal of last night's Group C qualifier when his ill-conceived back-pass handed Marko Pantelic a simple finish. That punctured Northern Ireland's hopes of taking second place and Estonia's away win over Slovenia made things even worse, sending them down to fifth.

Worthington was particularly disappointed by the manner of the defeat, with Davis' mistake coming just as the hosts had finally started to pressurise a Serbia side that had dominated the first 45 minutes.

"It's hugely disappointing for one of our top-class professionals in Steven Davis," said Worthington.

Wales manager Gary Speed says Craig Bellamy has been "robbed" of the chance to face England at Wembley after his booking in last night's 2-1 win over Montenegro ruled him out of the game.

The new Liverpool signing was shown yellow towards the end of the first half for shirt-pulling. It followed his booking in the 2-0 defeat by England in March and means he has to sit out the eagerly anticipated Group G qualifier.

Bellamy will not be the only player missing from Speed's squad in London as Sunderland midfielder David Vaughan also picked up his second booking of the campaign.

Speed is disappointed not to have the duo available and was unimpressed with the decision of Italian referee Luca Banti to put Bellamy in the book. He said: "Nobody is more disappointed than Craig and David."

Norwich striker Steve Morison got the opener when he pounced to tap home, before captain Aaron Ramsey was given an easy finish after a typically surging run from the outstanding Gareth Bale.

Promoted articles

Entertainment News