England captain Steven Gerrard has announced his international retirement after making 114 appearances in a career spanning 14 years. The 34-year-old, who led the national side in this summer's FIFA World Cup™ which saw them exit the tournament after just two matches, said he had "agnonised" 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," he told 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.
"Most importantly, Brendan (Rodgers, his manager at Liverpool) 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."
Gerrard made his debut in 2000 in a 2-0 win over Ukraine at Wembley and went on to play in six major tournaments, scoring 21 times over his entire career. He captained the side 38 times and is the third most-capped England player of all time behind Peter Shilton (125) and David Beckham (115).
"I'd like to firstly thank my family and friends for all their support throughout my England journey," added 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.
"I'd especially like to thank Roy (Hodgson), firstly for giving me the captaincy permanently when he took the job, making me the proudest man in the country and allowing me to fulfil my childhood dream. He has been very understanding over the past few weeks and is a man I will always hold in the highest regard."
Hodgson was faced with a rebuilding programme after England failed to win a single match in Brazil but admits he will be sad to see Gerrard, whom he managed briefly during a short stint at Anfield, go.
"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," said the national team boss. "I must respect his wishes due to the discussions we have had and the amount of thought and consideration he himself has given it. He is an incredible man and a fantastic footballer who we have all been blessed to see in an England shirt so often.
"It is never by coincidence that people reach such a staggering figure as 114 caps, it is a mark of his wonderful talent allied to a huge drive and determination to live up to the highest standard. He is not only a player to bring crowds to their feet with moments of brilliance; he was a tremendous captain and an exceptional role model for everyone who was fortunate to come into contact with him.
"We shall miss his leadership qualities as we look ahead to the qualification campaign with a youthful group of players. I wish him all the best in the future, although I know I can count on his continued support and influence as a helpful presence moving forward."
FA chairman Greg Dyke paid tribute to the midfielder, whom he described as an "England great".
"It is sad news but also gives us the opportunity to celebrate a wonderful career; Steven gave everything for England and he will be missed," he said. "I saw at first hand his close relationship with Roy, and as a captain he could not have done more for the cause. He played at the highest level over such a long period of time and earned 114 caps, making him the third most-capped player for England, and also featured in six major tournaments - his longevity and determination will see him remembered by everyone as an England great."