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Eriksson says he will see out England contract

© Reuters Limited 2001

LONDON, July 9 (Reuters) - England coach Sven Goran Eriksson says he has no intention of quitting before his five-year contract expires, despite being quoted in a Swedish newspaper as saying he might not last the distance.

Saturday's Aftonbladet quoted Eriksson, a Swede, as saying: "Just as Tony Blair told me: 'We'll see who remains in his post the longest.' I don't think I'll stay for five years." Eriksson, on holiday in his native country, said he had spoken to the British prime minister last month, shortly after the British Labour Party leader was elected for his second term of office. Eriksson also said he found it difficult to deal with the long periods between matches at international level and indicated that he would eventually like to return to club management. Some English newspapers seized on the comments as meaning he was considering stepping down at some point.

But in a statement issued by the English FA on Monday he said his comments had been misinterpreted and that he was merely reflecting on the fickle nature of soccer management contracts.

"I have a contract with England for five years, which I am extremely proud of," he said. "I hope to survive and complete that contract. But, of course, in football you never know." Eriksson, the first foreigner to coach England, has led his adopted country to a record five straight wins since taking charge in January.

The 53-year-old took the England job after leading Lazio to the Italian league and cup double in 2000. To date, he has enjoyed a smooth ride from the English media, famed for savaging the national team's manager at the first sign of problems.

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