International

Gerrard ends England career

2014-07-21 16:33
Steven Gerrard (Supplied)
Steven Gerrard (Supplied)

London - England captain Steven Gerrard has retired from international football on Monday after becoming a pillar of the team in 114 appearances, but making way after the country's disastrous World Cup campaign.

Gerrard, 34, led England at the World Cup where they bowed out in the group stage. The Liverpool midfielder said he had "agonised" over the decision since returning from Brazil.

"This has been a very difficult decision, one of the toughest I've had to make in my career," Gerrard told the Football Association's FATV.

"I have agonised over this since coming back from Brazil and have spoken to family, friends and people close to me in the game before coming to this point.

"I have enjoyed every minute of representing my country and it is a sad day for me knowing that I won't pull on the England shirt again."

Gerrard has been hailed as one of the best midfielders to come out of England. The first of his 21 international goals came in a famous 5-1 victory over Germany in a World Cup qualifier in September, 2001.

Gerrard said his desire to maintain his form and fitness for Liverpool, particularly given the Reds return to this season's Champions League, also played a factor in his England retirement.

"Most importantly, Brendan (Rodgers) has been fantastic and obviously I have to look after my body as much as possible to ensure I can give everything when I take to the field.

"To ensure I can keep playing to a high level and giving everything to Liverpool Football Club I believe this is the right decision, and having Champions League football back at Anfield is another big factor in my decision," explained Gerrard.

Gerrard, who made his international debut against Ukraine in 2000, trails just Peter Shilton (125) and David Beckham (115) on England's all-time caps list.

He appeared at three World Cup finals as well as three European Championships. He captained England on 38 occasions, notably at both 2010 and 2014 World Cups as well as Euro 2012.

"I'd like to firstly thank my family and friends for all their support throughout my England journey," said Gerrard.

"I'd also like to thank everyone who has been part of my international career, from the England managers I've played under to the staff at the FA and, of course, all the players I've been fortunate to play alongside.

"In particular the supporters have been amazing, not least in Brazil when they got behind the team despite the disappointing results."

England coach Roy Hodgson, who made Gerrard his full-time captain in 2012, paid tribute to his outgoing skipper, saying: "While I'm disappointed in the decision, I can entirely understand Steven's situation and can have no complaints given the incredible service he has given to his country.

"I must respect his wishes due to the discussions we have had and the amount of thought and consideration he himself has given it.

"We shall miss his leadership qualities as we look ahead to the (Euro 2016) qualification campaign with a youthful group of players.

Former England defender Rio Ferdinand, whose injury saw Gerrard replace him as captain for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, was also full of praise, tweeting: "Gerrard has been an incredible player. Surpassing 100 caps is some achievement."

Midfielder Frank Lampard, who has 106 England caps to his name, could well be the next member of the country's so-called 'Golden Generation' to call time on his international career. The ex-Chelsea midfielder, now 36, is expected to announce his decision in coming weeks.

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