England and Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has today officially announced he will retire from international soccer.
Gerrard, 34, has taken his time to contemplate his future after the World Cup tournament, and has decided to call it a day on his international career.
“I have enjoyed every minute of representing my country and it is a sad day for me knowing that I won’t pull on the England shirt again.
“However, I do look forward to continuing my strong relationship with The FA and helping out in any way I can going forward.”
Gerrard has stepped into an ambassadorial role for the FA and England national team, not dissimilar to the role other England legends such as David Beckham have taken on. He was capped 114 times for his country, 38 as captain, making him the third most capped player in England’s history, behind Peter Shilton and David Beckham. He is one of only 8 players to surpass 100 caps for England. Playing in 3 World Cups and scoring 3 goals, alongside countless other memories for the England team, he will be sorely missed.
Among pundits, opinion was split as to whether he should continue. Many wished for him to retire as a way of ushering in a new generation of English talent, whilst others wanted Gerrard present to guide and assist in developing said talent himself. The former have got their wish.
Gerrard said the decision wasn’t easy, saying: “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.”
However, his decision largely came down to his wish to prolong his career at Liverpool. With Liverpool attaining Champions League soccer for the first time since the 2009/10 season, Gerrard’s club calendar will be as stressful as it has ever been.
England manager Roy Hodgson 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.
“He is not only a player to bring crowds to their feet with moments of brilliance; he was a tremendous captain and an exceptional role model for everyone who was fortunate to come into contact with him. We shall miss his leadership qualities as we look ahead to the qualification campaign with a youthful group of players.”
Gerrard leaves the England team without medals, but with memories aplenty. He is one of the last standing members of the supposed golden generation of the mid 2000s and will go down in the eyes of many as an England legend. His retirement, in many ways, represents the end of an era for England.