Hoddle sends signals to younger generation

Football
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The Independent Online
Bisham Abbey seemed an appropriate place for England to be training yesterday, with one member of the party doing penance and the rest having remembrance at the back of their minds.

While Rio Ferdinand joined a squad preparing for a match he has been excluded from, Glenn Hoddle, the coach, spoke of the difficulties of preparing a team for a World Cup qualifier at a time when the country is in a state of mourning.

Hoddle's team meet Moldova at Wembley next Wednesday, four days after the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, and Hoddle said: "It will be a difficult, emotional evening. It is an opportunity to lift the nation at that stage. The three points are, in many ways, secondary; such a tragedy reminds us it is only a game of football. But she was a very professional lady and we have to be professional."

Hoddle reiterated that Ferdinand's exclusion for a drink-driving conviction would have occurred regardless of Diana's death in a car driven by an apparently drunk driver. "We made the decision before that news came out," he said. "With an 18-year-old going to court on the day he was joining up with the squad, I had no option. If I hadn't, I wouldn't have slept well at night."

Ferdinand was arrested in the early hours of Monday morning. He had taken a taxi home to Peckham after a long drinking session on Saturday night but made the mistake of having three further drinks over dinner with friends on the Sunday. They "topped up" the alcohol remaining in his blood.

"Though there was no publicity, we did the same with Jody Morris, withdrawing him from the Under-21s after a similar incident a few months ago," Hoddle said. "At that age we feel that is right: they need to learn that lesson. It is a signal to any young player.

"Ferdinand is here because I wanted him to see what he is missing out on. This being his first call-up it had all the more impact. We have had a long chat. He's very disappointed with what he's done. He feels he's let himself, his club and his family down. It has been a harsh lesson to learn. We don't want to crucify him - he hasn't shot anyone or robbed a granny - but he needs to learn. He's not out for good, Harry [Redknapp, his manager at West Ham] and I will monitor his conduct. If he goes and does something else in a month's time, then there's a problem."

Ferdinand is also being counselled by Tony Adams, a reformed alcoholic and convicted drink-driver, who is with the squad though he will not be fit to play next week.

Hoddle added: "If you play for England there is an expectation on and off the pitch. The situation with Paul Gascoigne [beating his wife] was different. He was not taken to court. I felt he needed help to overcome it and it would not be beneficial to anyone to chuck him out the squad."

Three players, Teddy Sheringham, David Batty and Sol Campbell, missed training to nurse various bruises and aches. All should be fit to play next week.

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