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'Beckham won't break England caps record'

July 24, 2008 14:08 IST

Goalkeeper Peter Shilton, who played a record 125 times for England, said on Wednesday he would be the first to congratulate David Beckham if he beat his record -- but would be surprised if he did.

Shilton, who set the record at the 1990 World Cup in Italy, is one of only five men to play more than 100 games for England along with Bobby Moore (108 caps), Bobby Charlton (106), Billy Wright (105) and Beckham, 33, who has played 102 times.

"I don't want him to beat my record, but I would be the first to congratulate him if he did," Shilton told reporters at the launch of this season's Nationwide Football Annual, the world's oldest annual football handbook.

"He (Beckham) is still a wonderfully gifted player and has proved by winning his place back in the squad last season he still has plenty to offer England.

"However, I would be surprised if he broke the record. He would have to play in almost every England match until at least the World Cup in South Africa, assuming England qualify.

YOUNG LEGS

"I believe it would say something was wrong with English soccer if some of the younger players had not come through and taken his place in the team by then," he added.

"You can have all the experience in the world but it's the younger players who have the legs to last for 90 minutes."

Shilton, 58, who played for his country for 20 years until he was almost 41, also said England's goalkeeping situation was not as bad as it appeared to have been two or three years ago with a number of young players coming through.

"David James is obviously back as England's No.1 and as long as he stays fit and avoids injury I believe he will keep the position.

"Paul Robinson had a confidence crisis last season but is still England's next most experienced goalkeeper and can return, while keepers like Scott Carson, Ben Foster, Chris Kirkland and Joe Hart are all knocking on the door.

"The important point about being England's keeper, though, is that you cannot make more than one mistake a season really. You cannot make mistakes every two or three matches and that's the level of consistency all of them need to find."

Shilton also said he thought Chelsea's John Terry should be appointed England's permanent captain by coach Fabio Capello.

"He is the natural leader in the England squad, he is inspirational and a born winner," he added.

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