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Gerrard: We've failed England

ESPN staff
March 21, 2013 « Liverpool firm in face of Suarez speculation | Chartbeat test »
Steven Gerrard has admitted that his generation of England players have underachieved © Getty Images
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England captain Steven Gerrard admits his generation of Three Lions players has failed their country in attempting to win silverware in a major tournament.

The England squad, currently preparing for the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro, has come so close to tasting glory in a major tournament, the most recent a penalty shoot-out loss to Italy in the quarter-finals of Euro 2012.

But for all their quarter-final and semi-finals appearances, England have squandered their chances of adding another trophy to their 1966 World Cup triumph.

And in an honest interview with The Mirror, the 32-year-old Gerrard did not hold back in laying blame at the feet of a generation of players who can arguably be described as one of the best in England's history.

"I don't feel I have done myself justice at a World Cup. I don't think any England player of this generation can think they have," he said.

"If you spoke to the squad that came back after 1990, they could be satisfied with how close they came and that they did everything they could and had no regrets.

"But I have always come out of the tournaments with England with regrets that we haven't gone to that extra stage, the last four or the last two.

"I take some of the responsibility for that. I have always been honest and said I am part of that squad of 23 players that comes back having underachieved.

"You can't hide behind anyone, you have got to take it on the chin and get on with it."

However, Gerrard said a need to etch their names in history was driving this squad into qualifying for Brazil 2014.

The Liverpool player even admitting a "selfish" desire to be a Three Lions hero is fuelling his own drive to again grace the world's biggest stage next year.

"It's a must for me to qualify from a personal, selfish point of view," Gerrard said. "An absolute must.

"On one level, it's about the chance to compete against the best sides and individuals on the planet.

"On another, it's about having that small chance of coming back as heroes in an England shirt, which I have never experienced.

"I have dreamt about it of course. I am sure everyone has. I have got close to it. Penalty shoot-outs in the last eight are close but not close enough."

But Gerrard did urge his team-mate to not lose focus ahead of the battles with San Marino and Montenegro, knowing only a successful qualification would give this group a chance of redemption in Brazil.

"We have to get the balance right between being confident about going there and getting the result we want and being in any way over-confident," Gerrard said.

"It would be a schoolboy error for any of us to go into the game against Montenegro thinking it will be a stroll in the park.

"It is a responsibility of mine to make sure that none of the players are underestimating this because this will be a tough game in a hostile atmosphere.

"The result could go either way depending on how we approach it. Can you win the game? Yeah. Could we lose it? Yeah.

"The danger with England is that after a result like the one against Brazil, everyone gets carried away.

"Everyone starts assuming we've already qualified for 2014 and before you know it, people will be talking about us as one of the favourites.

"That type of thinking is dangerous. It wasn't so long ago we had a lot of criticism for not keeping the ball well enough against Italy in Kiev.

"Things are moving forward. Things are progressing well. The manager's doing the right things and creating the right atmosphere.

"But at this level it can change in an instant - one bad result, one bad team performance and the nation can lose a lot of confidence in the team.

"The next two games are about trying to ensure that doesn't happen."

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