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DAVID Beckham revealed he had been practising with the new World Cup ball in his back garden before being injured.

The lightweight ball is expected to cause goalkeepers problems and benefit players like Beckham.

He said: "Adidas gave me one of the balls and I tried it out at their headquarters," said Becks.

"I liked it so much I bought one, took it home and used it in the garden. I've got a goal set up there and had a few shots. I like it, which bodes well."

He added: "We've got so many great players, young and old. I could go through them all and each of them has a certain ability that gives extra strength to this squad.

"There's a unity that wasn't there four years ago. In the past there's been a nervousness going into a big competition. But this team is young and exciting yet I don't sense any nerves in the team hotel.

"I've dreamed of winning the World Cup since I was a kid and I've even had that dream since I've been in Japan," said Beckham.

"This is where the serious stuff starts. We're not out here for a laugh and a joke.

"We're in the group of death and we know we can't afford to slip up at all.

"Leading out an England team in the World Cup Finals will be the most special thing that's ever happened in my career."
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Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 31, 2002
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