This time there will be no excuses, vows Neville

The 1998 World Cup and the European Championships of 1996 and 2004 are etched on the mind for the manner of England's exit, but, along with the heartache of the penalty shoot-out, they also represent serious under-achievement at the highest level, according to Gary Neville, who insists that there will be no excuse for failure in Germany.

In an assessment that contradicts Michael Owen's view that England's "nearly man" tag is a media invention, the Manchester United captain declared that injury to Wayne Rooney, a poor decision from a referee or another miss from 12 yards are no reason for his prodigiously talented generation to fail in another international tournament next month.

Speaking with the impatience of one who may be approaching his last World Cup, the 31-year-old admitted: "I've got to be realistic and think that at 35 I might not be playing at the next World Cup, and although there is a possibility that could happen I'm looking at this as my last and best chance to win a World Cup.

"There can be no excuses. We've been talking about England peaking in this tournament for years, so wherever we get is the measure of this team. For me, this is the peak for this team, for my generation, so there really can be no excuses. No bad decision, no missed penalty, no poor performance - these are things you have to cope with."

Neville refuses to countenance the idea that three penalty shoot-out defeats in the last five international tournaments is down to fate rather than form.

He said: "We have to be prepared for them. If we're not prepared I don't think we ever will be because we have had so many bad experiences with penalties, Argentina, Germany in '96, Portugal in 2004. It's no good us moaning about them if we get knocked out on penalties.

"We know about it now. We know what can happen. We know it probably is going to go to penalties in one of the four knock-out games and we've got to deal with it if we are going to go far in this tournament. I've only won one penalty shoot-out with England and that was against Spain in Euro 96 when we took five really good penalties. It is not just about luck, it's about quality and about having the nerve."

At Vale Do Lobo last week Owen was irritated at the suggestion that England have a reputation for glorious defeat than victory - "the press keep drilling it into people and you're not doing any favours for us," he said - but Neville accepts that under Glenn Hoddle, Kevin Keegan and Sven Goran Eriksson, the national team has not exceeded the sum of its parts.

"I think we underachieved in 2004 in Portugal," he admits. "Euro 2000 in Belgium and Holland, we weren't good enough, so you have to be realistic as well. In '98 you could say we underachieved. Then again you hear the excuses - "Oh we had Becks sent off" - but we lost to Romania in the group stages which meant we had to play Argentina rather than take an easier path. We shot ourselves in the foot.

"There can be no excuses this time - 2004 is the tournament where I think we underachieved. Euro 96 I'd also say we underachieved because I thought we should have won it, but this is the best chance we've got. We have no God-given right to win a World Cup but until we do we will be known as a nearly team."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created