Steve Gerrard, Gerrard, He’ll pass the ball forty yards, he’s big and he’s ******* hard, Steve Gerrard, Gerrard.
As Steven Gerrard approaches a century of England caps, none can question these gratuitously explicit lyrics taken from the immortal chant heard not only from Liverpool fans, but England supporters as well – as long as they’re winning of course.
But the lad from Merseyside didn’t start off his career as a renowned hard man; in fact, his old Liverpool teammate Robbie Fowler claims quite the opposite. “When Stevie first joined the first-team training at Liverpool he was a small, quite skinny lad” he recalls.
Since making his debut for England twelve years ago – a pre-Euro 2000 friendly against Ukraine in which England won 2-0 – Gerrard has not only grown physically but he has also matured into one of England’s finest ever centre midfielders.
His first international goal came in the historical 5-1 drubbing of Germany in Munich in September 2001 and he was named captain for the first time by manager Sven-Goran Eriksson in March 2004; coincidentally, a friendly against Sweden which England lost 1-0.
Watch that memorable goal against Germany here: http://bit.ly/PlayUpGerrard
The England captaincy merry-go-round has seen the armband passed around like a hot potato, which means Wednesday’s friendly against the Swedes will be his twenty-fifth appearance as skipper.
Despite his somewhat quietly foreboding nature, Gerrard holds an incredible air of confidence and determination; something of which critics have deemed the exact qualities needed for the role as leader of the Three Lions. His official naming as captain under Roy Hodgson came a lot later than many thought was deserved, with former bosses Fabio Capello and Stuart Pearce seeing his modesty as a negative attribute.
After being passed fit enough to travel to Sweden, Gerrard will be hoping he can be the 6th player join the exclusive ‘100 Club’ along with Peter Shilton (125 caps), David Beckham (115), Bobby Moore (108), Bobby Charlton (106) and Billy Wright (105).
Also not far off the milestone are fellow England veterans Ashley Cole (99) and Frank Lampard (93) but injuries have ruled the Chelsea duo out of the squad for this fixture. If all goes well for Gerrard in Stockholm, he could mark the occasion with his sixty fifth victory in an England shirt.
- The 1099th player to appear for England
- Won England Player of the Year 2007
- Appeared in 123 England squads
- Made 99 appearances (including 36 friendlies); making 96 starts and 3 substitute appearances
- Pass completion: 79%
- Yellow cards: 12
- Red cards: 1
- Played a total of 7604 minutes, scoring 19 goals (14 in competitive games)
- 24 appearances as captain – 54% win ratio