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Brown pays tribute to GB success


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Video - Brown says GB football team vital for 2012

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has paid tribute to the achievements of the British team at the Beijing Olympics.

Team GB beat all targets by collecting an impressive 19 golds and a total of 47 medals at the 2008 Games - their best haul for a century.

Mr Brown told BBC Olympic Breakfast that the medal haul was an "incredibly impressive achievement".

"It is remarkable. We should be really proud. Back home there is real enthusiasm for the Olympics."

Mr Brown has already stated that the honours system will recognise the achievements of the team.

With the end of the 2008 Games, the baton now passes to London - which will host the next Olympics in 2012.

And Mr Brown says London has a tough act to follow.

"It's inspiring to see the level of organisation in China," he added. "It's a challenge. They have set a very high standard and we've got to do better.

"I think it is the best organised Olympics, everybody says so, but as the focus moves today to 2012 then people will look at London, look at Britain afresh and they'll see that we're a tremendously diverse country, they'll see that we're totally focused on inspiring people through sports."

And Mr Brown also stated his desire to see a Great British football team at the 2012 Olympics.

The Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland football bodies have opposed any such move in case it affects their status within governing body Fifa.

"The British public would find it strange if there was no British team," Mr Brown told BBC Olympic Breakfast.

The Prime Minister said he had spoken to Fifa president Sepp Blatter about the situation.

Blatter has stated that it would be better for Britain to field a team entirely made up of English players because "this will then not provoke a long and endless discussion of the four British associations".

"I am very concerned about this," he added. "The issue is whether would affect the autonomy of the individual associations.

"I talked to Mr Blatter about how we could find a solution to this and I am confident Fifa will give the assurances that the Scottish, Welsh and Irish Associations want.

"I am also confident that when the people of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland know that matches will be taking place outside London, they will approve of this idea.

"We all want to see a Great Britain football team. It's the right thing to do to have a successful Olympics."

He added that he has spoken to Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, a fellow Scot, about the possibility of leading a GB football team.

Ferguson has previously said that he would not "try to commit myself to something that is four years ahead".

However, Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp says he would relish the chance to manage the team.

"I'm absolutely flattered that my name is being mentioned about managing the Great Britain team," he told the Sunday Mirror.

"Would I take it if they offered it to me? Absolutely, I would be a fool not to. I've had some great managerial jobs during my career but there is no doubt this would be the icing on the cake.

"The fact it is being held on my old stamping ground in East London makes it even more appealing."

Great Britain won the Olympic football gold medal in 1908 and 1912 but have not competed in the tournament since 1960.

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