Frank Lampard urged fans not to get too carried away after England bounced back to form on Wednesday to seal their passage into the FIFA World Cup™ second round. But in the next breath the Chelsea star stoked up expectations by insisting this England side has the potential to set the FIFA World Cup alight.
"We shouldn't get too carried away, just as we shouldn't get too down about our draw with Algeria," Lampard said after Jermain Defoe's first-half goal gave England a 1-0 win over Slovenia and with it the runner-up spot in Group C.
"There were a lot of positives today. We could have scored more goals, there are things we can improve on, but if we do that we can go far. We have to keep a steady head -- we can't talk about ourselves as world beaters, but at the same time there were a lot of positives this afternoon. We know if we are at our best and we play at our best we've got the chance to beat anyone."
England's 25,000-strong travelling band of supporters were an important ingredient in the team's victory at Port Elizabeth's Nelson Mandela Bay stadium, Lampard said. "The fans were fantastic. There was a special feeling on the way to the ground, when you look into their faces it can't help but get you going.
"After all the negative things that have been said in the press [after a section of the fans booed England off following their 0-0 draw with Algeria in Cape Town] some fans could have been less vocal and less supportive. But they weren't, the stadium was basically alll England today. It was like a home game for us and that really lifted the lads. When they support the team in that way they are the best."
Lampard reflected on England's circuitous route to the last 16, with the opening 1-1 draw against the United States followed by the woeful goalless stalemate with Algeria and the Slovenia win. "Games can't always be brilliant, every player in the team can't always perform at his best, that's only natural. The important thing is how you react. We showed our determination and spirit on the pitch, we all showed what we can do today."
England missed out on claiming top spot in Group C due to the USA's stoppage-time winning goal against Algeria in Pretoria, but Lampard claimed finishing first or second was unimportant. "It doesn't matter if we finish first or second in the group. This way we have an extra day's rest [England play on Sunday, while the USA play their last-16 game 24 hours earlier]. We need to use that."