Steven Gerrard will win his 100th England cap when he captains his country against Sweden next week and national coach Roy Hodgson thinks his contribution at international level speaks for itself.
The 32-year-old has been Liverpool’s talisman for the best part of 12 years, but he has not always been able to reproduce his club form when clad in the white shirt of his country.
Gerrard has scored 19 goals at international level -- at a rough ratio of one every five games -- but not since he opened his England account in the 5-1 drubbing of Germany in September 2001 has he found the net against one of the world’s leading sides.
He has also faced criticism over his inability to form a successful partnership with Chelsea’s Frank Lampard, and he has played at five major tournaments without ever leaving an indelible impression.
Nevertheless, his performances at Euro 2012 earned him a place in UEFA’s team of the tournament, and Hodgson believes he has been a victim of the expectations that he generated in the formative years of his career.
“When Gerrard broke into the Liverpool team, I remember it quite well, everyone was raving about this superstar,” said the England coach.
“[It was like] when [Wayne] Rooney broke into the Manchester United team. Then suddenly, they’re not potential any more -- they are superstars. That’s when the criticism starts -- ‘Oh, he’s not doing this, he’s not doing that.’
“Anybody who gets 100 hundred caps for his country has got to be one hell of a player. There’s no doubt about that.
“And during those 100 caps, there’ll be times when he wakes up after the game to the headlines, ‘Mr Fantastic’, and there’ll be times when he wakes up to the headlines, ‘You let us down’. That’s the nature of the business.”
Hodgson was the coach of Finland when Gerrard’s former Liverpool team-mate Jari Litmanen won his 100th international cap in 2006, and he is looking forward to repeating the experience at Stockholm’s Friends Arena on Wednesday.
“I’m delighted that I’m going to be the manager of the team when he gets that 100th cap because I’ll regard that to some extent as an honour as well,” said Hodgson.
“To have been there when Litmanen got his 100 caps and when Steven gets his -- I think it’s nice if you just happen to be the man on the bench that day.”
Hodgson was the first England coach to hand Gerrard the captaincy on a permanent basis, after several years when he was forced to play second fiddle to John Terry and Rio Ferdinand.
The Liverpool midfielder is not renowned for being a great motivator like his immediate predecessor, Terry, but Hodgson says that he brings other vital qualities to the role.
“I think what makes him a good captain is, first of all, his ability, which gives him enormous respect in a group,” said the former Liverpool coach.
“But what also gives him a big heads up over other people is his maturity, his total dedication to football, and the fact that he’s prepared to give his time to other players, to champion the cause of young players and speak to them, and do everything you expect a captain to do.
”I don’t think you necessarily need to be demonstrative.“
Gerrard will become the sixth player to make 100 England appearances, after Peter Shilton (125 caps), David Beckham (115), Bobby Moore (108), Bobby Charlton (106) and Billy Wright (105).
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