England's departure for the World Cup was hit by a moment of farce when comedian Simon Brodkin (aka BBC Three's Lee Nelson) gatecrashed the travelling party as they arrived at Luton Airport.
Brodkin - best known for his performance as Lee Nelson in the BBC comedy series - was pictured attempting to mingle with England's players and staff as they waited for their luggage to be removed from the coach which had delivered them to a private terminal at the Bedfordshire airport.
Dressed in an identical suit to those worn by the England travelling party and brandishing a passport, Brodkin spent several moments in close proximity to the players before he appeared to be spotted first by captain Steven Gerrard, after which members of security and local police intervened.
Brodkin was spoken to by a police officer before leaving the area.
It is not the first time Brodkin has attempted such a stunt. In April 2013, he was given a six-month conditional caution after warming up with the Manchester City team ahead of a match against Everton at Goodison Park the previous month. His appearance attracted some derision on Twitter.
@EddyRhead It's Lee Nelson, that unfunny BBC Three 'comedian' with a stunt to get onto the England plane...
— Nooruddean (@BeardedGenius) June 1, 2014
He was charged with going on to the playing area, contrary to the Football Offences Act.
Brodkin's antics aside, it was a low-key send-off for the England team as they jetted off to Miami for the next stage of their preparations ahead of the World Cup in Brazil.
The squad is due to arrive in the US in the early hours of Monday morning UK time. Their first training session on US soil is slated for Tuesday with their next warm-up match against Ecuador at Sun Life Stadium on Wednesday.
Roy Hodgson's 23-man squad, plus standby players John Stones and John Flanagan, boarded the flight shortly before 2pm, although they were all back out again a short time later as they posed for photographs on the steps of the plane along with the manager.
"We feel positive, we'll do what we can. There's certainly no trepidation - obviously excitement, but we're aware of our responsibilities, we're carrying a lot of hopes and dreams with us."
If you think that Simon Brodkin (yes, Lee Nelson is a FICTIONAL CHARACTER) stunt is funny, you need to reconsider your life
— Lord Kieron Tierney (@MonarchyofKiko) June 1, 2014
I hope they lock Simon Brodkin aka "Lee Nelson" up for a very long time for his "stunt" to prevent him from inflicting his "comedy" on us. — Phil Sinkinson (@_PhilS) June 1, 2014
With two friendlies to come ahead of the big kick-off, Hodgson admits the big fear now is injuries - particularly in light of witnessing the World Cup-ending broken leg suffered by Italy midfielder Riccardo Montolivo in Saturday's friendly with the Republic of Ireland.
"Seeing the game last night at Craven Cottage and seeing Montolivo injured - I'll be very concerned about that," he said.
"It's a case of getting everyone on the field of play, giving everyone a chance to at least get some minutes before we go into the tournament itself."
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