Seven dramatic days that shook the world of English football

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The Independent Football


Sven Goran Eriksson delays naming his squad for England's Euro 2004 qualifier against Turkey until the following day. The speculation is that England are waiting on the fitness of Michael Owen, who was injured on Saturday. Behind the scenes, however, the Football Association is grappling with the case of Rio Ferdinand, who missed an appointment for a drugs test, which he then passed two days later.


FA officials travel in vain to Manchester in the hope of holding a preliminary hearing into Ferdinand's case. With the case unresolved, Eriksson is forced to delay naming his squad once again. There is speculation throughout the day over the reason for the delay and, in the evening, details of Ferdinand's case emerge. Manchester United, Ferdinand's club, confirm the reports in a statement at 23.29.


Paul Barber, the FA's director of marketing and communications, announces that Ferdinand has been omitted from the England squad. The decision was taken by Mark Palios, the FA's chief executive, who decided it would be "inappropriate" to select Ferdinand. Late in the evening the players meet at their hotel and vote to back Ferdinand. Refusing to travel to Turkey is one of the options they will consider.


A day of frantic discussions ends with Palios, Barber and Eriksson announcing that a strike has been averted, despite the FA refusing to change its stance over Ferdinand, who calls on the players to go to Turkey. The players, however, issue a statement containing stinging criticisms of the FA. "We feel they have failed us very badly," they say.


England train in the morning at London Colney and fly from Luton to Turkey in the afternoon. Michael Owen has not recovered from his injury and fails to make the trip. Aston Villa's Darius Vassell replaces him in the squad. The England players and officials arrive at the airport in Istanbul in the evening amid tight security.


England train in the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium in Istanbul. Beckham reads out a statement on behalf of the players, insisting their patriotism is not in doubt. There had been speculation that the players would announce a vote of no confidence in Palios, but Beckham insists they will now let the FA go ahead and deal with the Ferdinand case.


England's players put the controversy of the last week behind them and earn a deserved draw against Turkey, which is sufficient to clinch automatic qualification for the Euro 2004 finals in Portugal. At the final whistle the England players form a "bonding" huddle, as if to emphasise that the dispute has brought them even closer together. .