LONDON: The moment Steven Gerrard was substituted in the second half of England’s World Cup exit draw against Costa Rica has also proved to have been the end of his international career.
Liverpool’s veteran captain, having consiered the pros and cons, has confirmed his international retirement after 114 appearances in a 14-year career.
Gerrard, 34, had “agonised” over the decision since returning from Brazil. He said: “This has been a very difficult decision, one of the toughest I’ve had to make in my career. I have agonised over this since coming back from Brazil and have spoken to family, friends and people close to me in the game before coming to this point.
“Most importantly, Brendan [Rodgers, manager at Liverpool] has been fantastic and obviously I have to look after my body as much as possible to ensure I can give everything when I take to the field.”
Gerrard made his debut in 2000 in a 2-0 win over Ukraine at Wembley and went on to play in six major tournaments, scoring 21 times. He captained the side 38 times and is the third most-capped England player of all time behind Peter Shilton (125) and David Beckham (115).
He added: “I’d like to firstly thank my family and friends for all their support throughout my England journey. I’d also like to thank everyone who has been part of my international career, from the England managers I’ve played under to the staff at the FA and, of course, all the players I’ve been fortunate to play alongside.
Tribute to fans
“In particular, the supporters have been amazing, not least in Brazil when they got behind the team despite the disappointing results.
“I’d especially like to thank Roy (Hodgson), firstly for giving me the captaincy permanently when he took the job, making me the proudest man in the country and allowing me to fulfil my childhood dream.
“He has been very understanding over the past few weeks and is a man I will always hold in the highest regard.”
Hodgson already knew he faced a rebuilding job after England failed to win a single match in Brazil but both regretted and understood the decision of a player whom he managed briefly at Anfield.
He said: “While I’m disappointed in the decision I can entirely understand Steven’s situation and can have no complaints given the incredible service he has given to his country.
“I must respect his wishes due to the discussions we have had and the amount of thought and consideration he himself has given it. He is an incredible man and a fantastic footballer who we have all been blessed to see in an England shirt so often.
“It is never by coincidence that people reach such a staggering figure as 114 caps, it is a mark of his wonderful talent allied to a huge drive and determination to live up to the highest standard.
“We shall miss his leadership qualities as we look ahead to the qualification campaign with a youthful group of players. I wish him all the best in the future, although I know I can count on his continued support and influence as a helpful presence moving forward.”