Townsend: I took Hodgson's joke as a compliment

The winger, who helped England seal a place at next summer's World Cup, played down any racial connotations of his manager's team talk and labeled the reaction "silly."
England winger Andros Townsend has brushed aside the scandal surrounding Roy Hodgson’s halftime team talk during the Three Lions' 2-0 victory over Poland by stating he took it as a "compliment."

The 22-year-old made a huge impact in England’s final two World Cup qualifiers, so much so that his manager used an anecdote to urge the rest of the side to pass the ball to him more.

However, the motivational speech, which referred to a monkey and an astronaut, has caused a degree of uproar from anti-racism campaigners, but Townsend has moved to play down the controversy.

"The manager just told the players to give the ball to me so that's a compliment," the Tottenham winger told BBC Sport. "Everyone should be focusing on us qualifying for Brazil - not on negative silly news."

His comments echoed the words he posted on his Twitter account Thursday, when he said "no offence was meant and none was taken," before remarking he felt the story was "not even news worthy."

But both the England manager and the Football Association were forced to speak out in defense of the halftime team talk after receiving formal complaints from campaigners Kick It Out and Race for Sport.