Gerrard swells with pride as he prepares to join England's elite 100 club
Following in famous footsteps tonight against Sweden, Steven Gerrard brims with pride at joining such luminaries as Bobby Charlton and Bobby Moore in the England 100 club. Yet Gerrard admits that the boys of '66 are the real history men.
"They'll always be heroes of mine and heroes of the English public," reflected Gerrard of Charlton, Moore and the other nine who conquered the world.
"In football, 'hero' and 'legend' status is given out far too easily. As far as playing for England goes, there are 11 heroes. The rest haven't really delivered. If they (Moore and Charlton) are 10s (in the ratings), I'm six or seven."
This is classic Gerrard: self-critical, humble, patriotic, hungry. The honour of reaching 100 caps means so much.
"It's something I never thought I'd achieve,'' said Gerrard, recalling the highs and lows of his career. "Not getting picked for the England U-15s, there have been times when I never thought I'd even get one cap. To be here on the eve of 100 is an unbelievable achievement.
"When I speak about it the hairs on the back of my neck stand up." His greatest buzz with England came in 2001, scoring against Germany in a 5-1 win in Munich.
"It's difficult to beat that because of who it was against, how emphatic the result was in their back yard and it being a World Cup qualifier."
A month after his best moment came Gerrard's worst display. "I always go back to Greece when Beckham scored the 'worldy' free-kick. That was a disappointing performance by me. That game was on the back of me being out a bit late, past bedtime, that's a bad memory."
The England of that era, Beckham and Gerrard, Paul Scholes and Michael Owen, was "the strongest England team I've played in," Gerrard continued.
"It had great balance between young and experienced players. We had some world-class players in that team. The 'Golden Generation' is something I don't really like talking about but when you look at that team from front to back it was really strong."
"That group of players underachieved at big tournaments. That team should certainly have got to a semi-final.
"We were unlucky at times in the penalty shoot-out, but that's certainly a regret now."
Asked who was the best player he has played alongside for England, Gerrard replied: "Probably Scholes. Just because his game is very similar to mine and I appreciate what he's got." (© Daily Telegraph, London)
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