RUSTENBURG, South Africa — England will go into their World Cup opener against the United States inspired by messages of support from British troops currently on duty in Afghanistan.
Good luck messages from the soldiers were filmed by military chiefs and delivered to the squad's training camp in South Africa and Steven Gerrard, the team captain, said the players had been moved by the show of support.
"We've watched a DVD of the guys out in Afghanistan," Gerrard said. "It was very inspiring, very touching. Now it is time for the players to deliver."
It shows troops at the Camp Bastion base in the troubled southern Helmand Province passing on their best wishes to the team.
They are seen pausing as they maintain vehicles to wish the players well -- and also enjoying a kick-about during their "down time".
"Just like you, we have to hit the target under pressure," one member of the Armed Forces says.
Other messages include: "Good luck, and bring it home for us", and "Get to the final for us".
Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force personnel were all represented on the DVD.
Former England captain David Beckham - who missed his chance of playing in the finals after suffering an Achilles tendon injury playing for AC Milan - paid a morale-boosting visit to the British troops late last month.
294 British personnel have died since operations began to topple the Taliban government in October 2001.