Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has dismissed the idea of being an England legend, insisting his generation of Three Lions players have not achieved enough.
The 32-year-old midfielder is due to receive his 100th cap as Roy Hodgson’s side face Sweden in a friendly on Wednesday and, while he is proud of reaching the prestigious landmark, Gerrard also revealed there were times in his life when he didn’t think he would win one cap, let alone a century of them.
“In football, the hero and legend status is given out far too easily for me. As far as playing for England goes, there are 11 heroes, the rest haven’t really delivered, for me,” he told The Daily Mirror, hinting at the Three Lions’ 1966 World Cup winners.
“I have always tried to give my best for England and every time I have played I have given it all I have got.
“I admit that my performances have not always been great but it has not been because of not wanting to be here or lack of effort or it not mattering to me as much as club football. When I used to lose with England in the early days it hurt just as much.”
Gerrard spoke of his delight at reaching the milestone, although early setbacks in his career formed doubts in his mind as to his long-term future.
He continued: “Reaching 100 caps is something I never thought I’d achieve.
“Growing up, getting turned down at the national school at 14 and not getting picked for England for the Under-15s there have been times when I never thought I’d even get one cap.
“It’s difficult to put into words, because when I speak about it the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. It’s unbelievable”, he added.
While he is proud to have played in the ‘golden generation’ of England players, he feels regret that the group has underperformed.
“When you look at that team from front to back it was really strong,” Gerrard added.
“That group of players under-achieved 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 – that group of players should have done better.”