Captain reveals his best England moment and how he deals with international spotlight
By Nicholas Veevers
As Steven Gerrard
prepares to lead out England and pick up his 100th cap against Sweden, the Liverpool star has been looking back at some of his most memorable moments with the Three Lions.
The 32-year-old, who says France's Zinedine Zindane was the best player he ever faced on international duty, has been one of England’s most consistent and impressive performers over the last 12 years.
And he surprises no-one when he selects the 5-1 victory over Germany in Munich as his favourite England match from the 99 so far.
He said: “I think so, just because of who it was against, how emphatic the result was, in their backyard and because it was a World Cup Qualifier.
“It’s difficult to beat that, but just being involved in the tournaments and leading the team out at tournaments is memorable.
“Even though they’ve ended in disappointment, the whole experience of going away and being the leader of that group are memories that I’ll have forever.”
Gerrard’s first taste of life with England came in 2000 when he was given his debut by Kevin Keegan
at Wembley against Ukraine, a game which ended in a 2-0 victory ahead of that summer's European Championship in Belgium and Holland.
And despite playing at Anfield for one of world football’s giant clubs and his hometown, he quickly discovered that the spotlight and expectation that came with playing for England was something completely new to him.
“There is a lot of pressure which comes with playing for England,” he added.
“I think it’s a bit of everything, the fans, the media, because we have the best league and because every other country is so desperate to beat us.
“As a player, you need to show that responsibility. There have been times when I’ve found the shirt is a bit of a weight, but you’ve got to try and play through it, take the criticism and get on with it.
”I used to have things on my mind about how I played and what people would think of me, but I don’t think like that anymore. I just give it my best and see how it goes.
“I can’t control what anybody is going to write or what anybody who is watching is going to think about my performance. All I can do worry about my control and focus on what I’m going to do.”
And no-one can argue that he’s done a pretty good job so far.