Personally I am disappointed he will not don the whites once more. Critics say he has never reached the same level for England as for Liverpool. Gerrard played in six tournaments but like all of his generation, never passed the quarter-finals. For Liverpool he is a warrior consistently rising to the challenge, like in those famous finals in the Champions League and FA Cup. Yet for England it was like he had a weight on his shoulders.
Despite this he is still, for me, the best midfielder to pull on an England shirt over the last few years. Even in his off games he sprayed 40-yard balls attempting to open up play, create something out of nothing and often hit the man he was aiming for. You couldn’t question his commitment either, flying into tackles stretching every fibre to reach the ball. It was this commitment to win that header against Uruguay that cost England so dearly in the World Cup, painfully ironic and perhaps the final straw for Gerrard.
Gerrard has put in some stunning performances which are forgotten. In Euro 2012 he set up three of England’s five goals finishing level with David Silva for assists during the tournament. It was a joy to see Gerrard combine with Michael Owen in an England shirt; they had an innate ability from their Liverpool youth days to find each other, but it never quite reached the heights they found at Liverpool together.
Despite his tremendous ability and tenacity there just seemed to be something missing from the Liverpool captain’s England career. Whenever he fell short in games he was always ready to admit this, it was just difficult to find a reason for it.
Gerrard knows by quitting England it should prolong his Liverpool career, giving him more time to work towards that Premier League title he so desperately craves. Only time will tell if it will extend his career and trophy cabinet.
So who will replace Gerrard as England captain? The front-runners include Wayne Rooney and Gary Cahill. After Rooney’s lacklustre performances recently he would not be my first choice. It is a shame Walcott has been injured for the last few months as I truly think he could be a candidate through his behaviour. I am shocked to see Jack Wilshere as a 33/1 outsider, surely whoever is the captain need to be a regular player?
Whoever follows in Gerrard’s footsteps has big boots to follow, a man who led by example and always gave his all.