Upson all smiles

Matthew Upson was a very happy man after helping England to reach the 2010 FIFA World Cup with a 5-1 thrashing of Croatia at Wembley.

The West Ham United defender was at his assured and confident best as Fabio Capello's men secured their place in South Africa with two matches to spare.

Upson enjoyed a quieter evening than many experts had predicted as a rampant England tore into Slaven Bilic's side, taking a lead within eight minutes that they never looked like relinquishing.

Former Hammer Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard both scored twice before Wayne Rooney added a late fifth.

Upson told WHUTV of his determination to ensure he is part of Capello's squad for next summer's showpiece.

"I'm delighted. It was great to have qualified so early. It was a fantastic effort from all the players and the staff and a really good commitment to the cause.

"I hope to keep my place. It's always nice to get the opportunity to play and I really enjoyed it. I'm on a good run at the moment so I've got to keep my form going and keep improving and I'll be involved next summer in South Africa."


Upson has become a fixture in Capello's squad since the Italian took charge in February 2008. His own good form, combined with injuries to Rio Ferdinand and John Terry has led to regular starts in England's perfect qualification campaign, which has seen them win all eight matches they have played.

The 30-year-old admitted he had expected a tougher test from the Croats, who needed to win to have any chance of denying England an automatic passage to the finals.

"It was possibly easier than we thought it would be. I thought we started with such a great tempo and we pressed the ball high and got about them. We were really aggressive and got at them. Aaron Lennon was outstanding on the right and caused them all sorts of problems and we came in at half-time and could have been five-up, so it was fantastic and probably one of our best performances of this campaign.

"I've had some good nights before, but it was great to be involved in such a great team performance and a great atmosphere at Wembley and be a part of it. I really enjoyed it."

Despite his achievement, with a young son at home and an important Barclays Premier League fixture at Wigan Athletic on Saturday to prepare for, Upson has no time to celebrate.

"No I won't celebrate. I'll just go home and have a nice rest and get some sleep and get in nice and early for training for a warm-down!"