Steven Gerrard has announced his retirement from international football at the age of 34, having amassed 114 caps and captained his country on 38 occasions. The midfielder has provided some of his county’s most iconic footballing moments, with the Liverpool legend cementing his place as one of English football’s true greats. With only two players, Peter Shilton and David Beckham, representing the Three Lions on more occasions, it was with great difficulty that the erstwhile No4 hung up his England shirt for the final time.
“It's been a really tough decision, certainly one of the toughest since I turned professional at 18,” Gerrard said upon retiring. “I have enjoyed every minute of representing my country. It's a sad day for me.”
FIFA.com takes a look back at Gerrard’s remarkable 14-year England career, picking out some of his most outstanding moments.
*England 2-0 Ukraine, 31 May 2000 (international friendly)
*The Liverpool midfielder was handed a memorable 20th birthday gift by then England manager Kevin Keegan back in May 2000. Having departed his teens just a day earlier, the youngster lined up at the old Wembley Stadium to kick off a remarkable international career. The versatile Gerrard slotted in on the right side of a 3-5-2 formation, but a promising performance which included some fine forays forward was cut short as he limped off with an injury with just under ten minutes remaining. The youngster impressed sufficiently in England’s final warm-up game before UEFA EURO 2000 to be given a place in Keegan’s final 23 for the tournament.
*Germany 1-5 England, 1 September 2001 (2002 FIFA World Cup qualifying)
*Having gained valuable experience as a member of Keegan’s squad at the previous year's EURO, Gerrard started his first competitive international for England in the potentially daunting venue of Munich’s Olympiastadion. Sven-Goran Eriksson plumped for the 21-year-old in his midfield and was fully justified as England recovered from an early setback to sweep aside their old rivals in one of the Three Lions’ finest victories. Gerrard’s first international goal was crucial, hit beautifully from 25 yards and coming on the stroke of half-time to put the visitors in front and inflict a psychological blow on the hosts from which they did not recover. It was only Germany’s second World Cup qualifying defeat on home soil, and it gave England every chance of reaching Japan/Korea 2002 after a previously disappointing qualification campaign.
*England 2-0 Trinidad and Tobago, 15 June 2006 (2006 FIFA World Cup)
*Despite his heroics in Munich, Gerrard missed out on a place in the 2002 World Cup squad due to injury, so he made his bow at the global finals in 2006 against Paraguay. Five days later, he would have his first World Cup goal, scoring a late strike to settle English nerves against Trinidad and Tobago in Nuremberg. Peter Crouch had nodded home David Beckham’s right-wing cross to break the deadlock seven minutes from time, and Gerrard’s thunderous effort sealed his side’s place in the Round of 16. The No4 cut inside onto his left foot to fire an unstoppable drive past Shaka Hislop, who he had beaten with a similarly venomous effort in the final moments of the FA Cup final for Liverpool against West Ham United just over one month previously.
*France 1-1 England, 11 June 2012 (UEFA EURO 2012)
*Having been named as permanent England captain for the first time a month prior to the continental finals, Gerrard was handed an opportunity to exorcise some demons from England’s previous appearance at the EURO. It was his misplaced backpass that saw Thierry Henry taken down, and Zinedine Zidane convert the resulting penalty, as France saw off England in the opening match of EURO 2004. Almost exactly eight years later, the two rivals faced off in their opening game again, and it was Gerrard who once more played a pivotal role in the drama. His free-kick cross set up Joleon Lescott to put England ahead in the first-half. Samir Nasri equalised with a fine strike before Gerrard cleared a goal-bound Karim Benzema effort away from danger in the closing stages. England’s newest permanent captain went from strength to strength, later named in the team of the tournament.
*England 2-0 Poland, 15 October 2013 (2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying)
*Having begun his England career at the previous incarnation of Wembley Stadium, Gerrard ended his competitive international career at the multimillion new home of English football with a goal which helped his side progress to Brazil 2014. With England needing a win to secure qualification, Gerrard provided yet another iconic moment in an England shirt to send Roy Hodgson’s side to the finals. Wayne Rooney nodded home just before half-time, but there was still plenty of nervous tension among the bumper Wembley crowd before Gerrard secured the win with two minutes remaining. Despite being the oldest English starter, the skipper retained some energy into the final moments, bursting on to a lofted James Milner pass and dancing past a couple of Polish challenges before poking home. The nation erupted in relief and Gerrard celebrated with pure joy, knowing he had surely booked his country’s ticket to Brazil.
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