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   June 21, 2002 | 1645 IST


Umit Davala
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Seaman 'sorry' for Ronaldinho goal

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Emotional England goalkeeper David Seaman apologised to the fans on Friday after he conceded a goal from a long-range free-kick from Ronaldinho that sealed a World Cup quarter-final defeat by Brazil.

Though England players strongly defended the 38-year-old and described Ronaldinho's dipping 30-metre effort variously as a "freak" and "a fluke", Seaman told reporters: "My main thing is that I just want to say sorry to the fans."

Asked about the response from his England team mates after the final whistle of the 2-1 loss, Seaman said: "They've just been encouraging, they've been fantastic.

A downcast David Seaman after conceding the free-kick goal."They've just been saying 'just forget it' -- 'you kept us in this tournament, things like that'."

Seaman was in tears after the final whistle and was consoled by England captain David Beckham.

Beckham said it would be a disgrace if Seaman is blamed for Friday's loss.

"If anyone tries to make a scapegoat out of David Seaman I think it would be an absolute disgrace because I think he's been the best goalkeeper in this tournament," Beckham told reporters.

"The goal wasn't his fault. It was a fluke goal that was a cross that ended up being a goal."

Beckham, who was made a scapegoat for England's second round exit at the 1998 World Cup after being red-carded against Argentina, said: "I think it will be a disgrace if David Seaman is made a scapegoat because he's had a world-class tournament."

But Beckham conceded England had not made the most of Ronaldinho's 57th minute red card for a challenge on Danny Mills.

"We didn't take advantage of the situation as we should have done," Beckham said.

"But that's the way things go. We're all proud of ourselves and as a captain I'm proud of the team. This is a very young team and it's come a long way in a short space of time."

Denying there was a skills gap between the two sides, Beckham said: "Technically, Brazilians have always been brilliant -- that's been proved over so many years.


"But I feel every player in this team is comfortable on the ball just like every one of their players.

Beckham consoles Seaman after the match."It just wasn't to be our day." Despite England's exit, Beckham said there were still positive aspects of England's stay at the finals, having emerged from group F with a victory over Argentina and draws with Sweden and Nigeria, plus a resounding 3-0 second round win over Denmark.

"The plus points are that we were in a quarter-final of a World Cup where people said we would go out in the first round -- that we wouldn't even get through the Group of Death.

"We're a young team. We'll come back from this. Of course, there's disappointment -- everyone of us is disappointed.

"But me as a captain and Mr. Eriksson as a manager, we're all proud of the whole 23 players -- not just the 11 who were out there.

"It's been a squad thing all the way through this tournament until the final whistle," said Beckham.

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