England and their fans are preparing for their first match of the 2010 World Cup, against the USA on Saturday, but already their talisman Steven Gerrard is thinking about life after South Africa.
Gerrard, now captain as a result of Rio Ferdinand’s knee injury and John Terry’s previous indiscretions, admits it frequently crosses his mind that this could be his last World Cup.
“I’m no spring chicken,” muses Gerrard, 30, speaking exclusively in the new issue of FourFourTwo - out now. “I have to think that this could be my last World Cup and give it everything I’ve got.”
If this wasn’t enough pressure, the Liverpool captain hasn’t failed to notice that expectations for England to do well are high. What’s more, he has set high expectations himself.
“The way we’ve been playing, we need to be reaching the last four,” he claims.
“When you get to the knockout stages,” he continues, “it’s small details that decide the outcome. In 2006, a set-piece by David Beckham got us through and in the quarter-final we went out on penalties. If we get to that stage this year it’s all about having that extra bit of determination to get the small details right.”
These are brave words from a man who missed a penalty in the last World Cup, as England crashed out in the quarter-finals.
“I’ve learnt from my miss against Portugal in the last World Cup,” Gerrard insists. “Hopefully if we’re faced with penalties again we’ll be more successful.”
At least the temperature won’t be a problem. There are been questions over England’s aptitude at high altitude, especially after several players admitted to breathing difficulties in the 3-0 win over Platinum Stars in their final warm-up game.
But heat is less of an issue, and Gerrard is looking forward to the first winter World Cup since 1978, adding it “can only help England’s chances."
“I’ve played when the temperatures have been hot and it is difficult. You can feel a bit leggy and this around we won’t have that problem.”
The full interview with Steven Gerrard, and 31 other World Cup stars including Kaka, David Villa and Lionel Messi, is in the July issue of FourFourTwo, out now.comments