England captain Steven Gerrard has hinted he could retire from the international stage after the forthcoming FIFA World Cup™ in Brazil. Gerrard will lead Roy Hodgson's side to south America in June, where they face group stage fixtures against Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica.
The 33-year-old is hopeful England can defy their underdog status at the tournament and make a serious challenge for their first World Cup crown since 1966. But the Liverpool midfielder, who turns 34 next week, acknowledges this could be his last taste of the international scene.
With Liverpool back in the UEFA Champions League next season, Gerrard knows the demands on his body will be even greater and he could well decide to step away from England duty to prolong his club career.
"I'm not going to leave anyone hanging," Gerrard was quoted as telling several English newspapers on Sunday. "Don't worry, as soon as the World Cup is over I'll sit down with the manager at the right time and I'll make the decision. I can be open and honest with you now that I haven't made that decision because I haven't had the chance to chat with the manager at length over it.
"But I'll be chatting to (Liverpool manager) Brendan Rodgers, Roy Hodgson and a few important people around me whose opinion I respect, players I've played with. I'll chat to them all and make the right decision at the right time. It will be very close after the World Cup I'll make that decision.
"It does depend on how the World Cup goes, how I perform, how the team performs. Am I still going to be wanted after the World Cup? These are all the questions we'll have to sit down and answer. I won't stay around if I'm not wanted. I hope I perform to the level where I am wanted and I've got that difficult decision to make."
As soon as the World Cup is over I'll sit down with the manager at the right time and I'll make the decision.
Gerrard is only six caps shy of David Beckham's England outfield record of 115, which he would equal by featuring in all of the Three Lions' pre-tournament friendlies and group matches.
"To get close to David Beckham, to match him, or to go ahead of him would be an unbelievable achievement," Gerrard said. "He's a hero of mine, I was lucky enough to play with him. He's a top role model and a top player as well."
Gerrard's more immediate aim is to deal with the mental scars of Liverpool's failed attempt to win the English league title for the first time in 24 years. Brendan Rodgers' side needed to win their last three matches to claim the English Premier League trophy, but Gerrard made a costly slip against Chelsea, gifting a goal to Demba Ba which set up a 2-0 win for the Blues at Anfield that effectively handed the title to Manchester City. The Reds captain insists that mistake will not affect his performances at the World Cup.
"I am good, I am excited, I am really looking forward to it," he said. "Both for club and country I am in good form and I am excited like everyone else. I know everyone wants to know what frame of mind I am in because of the slip that happened to me against Chelsea but I am over it, it has gone, I can't change it.
"Of course I was disappointed in it from a personal point of view and the title slipping away from Liverpool with three games to go was a blow. But you've also got to look at all the positives as well. I can't just focus on one mistake I made over 38 games.
"I am in a good frame of mind, I am excited and I can't wait to get started at the World Cup."