England captain Steven Gerrard has admitted that the feeling of failing to qualify for Euro 2008 is part of what will spur him on to help England reach next year’s World Cup, Sky
Gerrard and Frank Lampard are the only two players currently in the squad to feature in the 3-2 home defeat to Croatia that denied England a place in Austria and Switzerland, and Gerrard revealed the crushing disappointment is something he still lives with today.
“It’s a memory I’ll have to take to the grave with me,” Gerrard said. “One of the lowest moments of my international journey. It is one of those memories that keeps coming back and coming back. It wasn’t about nerves. We under-performed.”
England, under Steve McClaren, needed a draw to progress but were beaten by a late Mladen Petric goal, and while the worst England could end up with this time is a play-off place, Gerrard added he has shared his pain of that night with the current squad in an effort to avoid a repeat.
“Everyone knows I’m not the most vocal captain. I won’t be roaring and bawling, he said. “But I have already spoken to the lads about that feeling. I’d never try to scare a young lad but it’s important they are aware what’s at stake. We need to seize this moment. We want to look back at this with fond memories and with a smile rather than the way I do about (Euro) 2008.”
Gerrard also praised the new faces who have come into the England set-up through qualification, but warned that they should not assume victory over Poland is guaranteed. “The emergence of some really bright young players has strengthened the squad. The manager could have put two teams out against Montenegro,” Gerrard said.
“But I do remember Croatia. When we got the equaliser that night I thought we’d go on and win. It just shows that although everyone fancies us to win this game anything can happen. We have to be prepared for that.”
Gerrard stands to win his 107th England cap against Poland on Tuesday, having made his international bow in 2000. He played at Euro 2000 but missed the World Cup two years later through injury, going on to appear at Euro 2004, World Cup 2006, World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012.
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