England captain Steven Gerrard ruled out stepping down from international football on Monday and revealed his ambition to lead his team to the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ in Brazil.
The 32-year-old Liverpool star's best string of performances for England came to a juddering halt on Sunday as his team bowed out of the UEFA EURO 2012 quarter-finals following a defeat on penalties to Italy.
However Gerrard, who will be 34 when the FIFA World Cup rolls around, is adamant he hopes to prolong his career under Roy Hodgson after reveling in the responsibility of the captain's armband.
"I have had a brief chat with the manager and told him I am available as long as I am wanted at this level," said Gerrard. "I have loved it [the captaincy]. I have loved the responsibility. I have enjoyed every minute of it. I have tried my best and gave it everything I have got."
I have had a brief chat with the manager and told him I am available as long as I am wanted at this level.
Gerrard was arguably England's player of the tournament, creating three of his team's five goals. While the central midfielder maintained England could look back on their campaign with pride, he acknowledged that there was still huge room for improvement after being outplayed by Italy in a chastening defeat.
"We have given a good account of ourselves," he said. "We haven't blown people away but we stuck together, fought hard and gave every inch of effort. However, at times we have found it difficult to keep the ball.
"The possession stats speak for themselves," he added. "It tells you that moving forward as a nation, we do need to try and improve with the ball."
Gerrard admitted however that the pain of yet another defeat on penalties in a quarter-final would not dissipate easily. "The effort and pride will be missed because we have gone out in a quarter-final penalty shoot-out again," said Gerrard.
"We are all hurting and we are all disappointed," he said. "But if you look at the big picture, from where we met four or five weeks ago, everyone has given it their best shot."
And Gerrard is adamant that England's performances were a vast improvement on their disastrous campaign at the 2010 FIFA World Cup when they scraped into the second round from a weak group and were routed 4-1 by Germany.
"It is [better than two years ago]," he said. "We have performed to a higher level at this competition than the previous one for sure."