Gareth Barry will never forget the night when he was sitting on the bench for England against Andorra and was subject to some of the worst crowd abuse he has ever heard.
The Aston Villa player was an unused substitute when England struggled to beat Andorra 3-0 back in March 2007. But the midfielder will never forget the reaction of the England supporters who made their feelings known towards former manager Steve McClaren and his players after they took 54 minutes to break the deadlock.
Barry admits the abuse was some of the worst he has heard, and is hoping for a vast improvement when England return to Barcelona to begin their 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifying campaign against Andorra on Saturday.
Barry said: "I found it quite strange. There was obviously a lot of pressure on the team at that moment. I was sitting on the bench, and there were boos quite early in the game. That's the expectation of England and the fans.
"So many travelled over that day, and they were expecting us to get out of the blocks straight away. But that's football and the pressure that comes with it. The players who were there will have learnt from that experience. Hopefully we can get off to a better start this time around. I wasn't out there on the pitch, so I don't know how much it affected the players. But we know we want to go out and do a job. We can't worry about that too much."
Barry admits the England players still have some fear of missing out on a big tournament after failing to reach the UEFA EURO Championships during the summer. But with Fabio Capello in charge, and a new sense of optimism around the squad, the Villa midfielder has no doubt they will get things right this time around.
"There's always that bit of worry. Any professional is wrong not to go out with a little bit of fear, but the camp is so positive that nobody is thinking about fear at the moment. That's very important," said Barry. "We'll take one game at a time, to win on Saturday and bring confidence into next Wednesday's game.
". We've had five friendlies and there have been lessons to be learnt, but everyone knows this is where we're going to be judged. This is where it all starts.
You can tell around the set-up that the lads are anxious to get going now
"We've had a chance to look at previous games, what went right and what went wrong in them. So there have been a lot of lessons learnt in the last two or three days. The manager has put his points across, what he wants us to be doing and going into the game with.
"It's a clean slate, the first game of the campaign and three points is what we are going to be looking for. Anything else is going to be a big bonus. Hopefully confidence can rise and rise after that."
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