David Beckham believes the team spirit in the England camp is the best he has ever known as they prepare for their first match in the World Cup in 10 days' time.
Old Trafford hosts England's last two warm-up matches, against Hungary and Jamaica, before the team fly to their base in Baden-Baden next Monday to prepare for their opening game, against Paraguay on 10 June.
Much of the spotlight has been on Wayne Rooney and his possible absence because of the metatarsal injury he sustained against Chelsea at the end of last month. However, the England captain insists that the team have a great togetherness which will stand them in good stead as they look to claim their first title since 1966.
Beckham said yesterday: "What really excites me about the World Cup is to experience this event with the rest of my team-mates. I think the spirit of this team is the best one I've ever experienced. The opportunity to reach the World Cup finals at this stage of my career is something I will always remember.
"I hope England win the World Cup. We have worked hard and we qualified by finishing first of our group. Now we have to go there and give everything we have. Of course, you always need luck because we already have talent and a great coach and the best thing we have is our incredible fans. We now only need to go to Germany and do our job."
The spotlight on Rooney has prompted comparisons with Paul Gascoigne, who made a lasting impact on the game with his performance at the World Cup in 1990. Both players can be described as matchwinners, capable of producing a spark of genius which changes the course of a game single-handedly.
"Wazza [Rooney] is always compared to Gazza," Beckham said. "Both of them are great players. Gazza was a star in his time but Rooney is still young and we are very lucky to have a player of his talent in the team."
The tournament in Germany will be Beckham's third World Cup and he will be hoping it will be more successful than his previous two appearances when he got sent off in France in 1998 and had barely recovered from his metatarsal injury four years ago in Japan and South Korea.