World Cup 2006 News
Australians still bitter at Italy penalty
Jul 1, 2006, 12:21 GMT
Sydney - Defender Lucas Neill said Saturday that tackling Fabio Grosso and giving away the penalty that ended Australia's World Cup wonder run would haunt him for the rest of his life.
With just 8 seconds of regular time to go, Spanish referee Luis Medina Cantalejo gave Italy the spot-kick that gifted them a 1-0 victory.
'I'm not over it yet,' Neill told The Sydney Morning Herald. 'For the rest of my life it will eat away at me that we had a realistic opportunity to get to the semi-final of the World Cup.'
Neill didn't directly accuse Grosso of taking a dive nor did he lash Cantalejo for being duped. And he didn't blame himself, either.
Neill said: 'Is it my fault? No. But I wish that I didn't make the decision for Grosso to fall over in the box easier. But I do feel that I am the one in the scenario responsible for Australia going out of the World Cup.'
Neill said he spoke to Cantalejo after the match, urging him to watch the incident on video.
'I don't blame him,' Neill said in his first public comment on the incident. 'But I blame a wrong decision that has cost Australia and everybody in the team, and me, everything. We have gone from a massive high to a massive low, based on one wrong decision that nobody will ever be able to do anything about and that we couldn't react to because there was no time left in the game.'
Neill took responsibility for the debacle, but said he and the rest of the Australian team had nothing to reproach themselves for. He nevertheless insinuated that noble Australians had been robbed by theatrical Italians.
'I don't know if it is because in Australia we are brought up to be too honest and too competitive and play hard but win fair, but I suppose when people look back they are not going to care too much ... No one is going to care if they are a cheat. Maybe they are all smart and we are just stupid.'© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur