Madrid, Feb 20 (IANS) Football legend and current Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane believes that only a lack of a winning mentality prevented the England teams he faced from winning a major tournament.
Zidane won both the World Cup in 1998 and the European Championship in 2000 during a glittering international career as a France player and reached the World Cup final again in 2006.
An England team featuring the likes of David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Steven Gerrard, on the other hand, did not progress past the quarter-finals of either competition during that same eight-year period.
“The mental factor can play a big part in football. Spain couldn’t make it further than the quarter-finals for years; when they did manage to they went and dominated football in a way that hadn’t been done before,” Zidane was quoted as saying by ShortList magazine on Friday.
“Some of those England teams I played against with players like Scholes, Gerrard and Beckham were more than capable of winning tournaments, so maybe mentality played a part,” he added.
Zidane does see, however, the shoots of a new England team with the potential to challenge for honours beginning to emerge.
“Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling are two exciting players for England. This summer in France will be a real opportunity for the rest of Europe to see how good they are,” he said.
“I don’t think they are favourites but they still have some very good players. They were very strong in qualifying, so I am sure they will arrive in France thinking they have a chance,” the World Cup winner said.