LIVERPOOL skipper Steven Gerrard has hinted that he hopes to play on until the age of 38 after retiring from international football to prolong his club career yesterday.
Gerrard’s decision comes weeks after England’s worst World Cup for more than 50 years, though he insisted that had no bearing on his decision to bow out on 114 caps.
The midfielder, who turned 34 in May, is set to take up an ambassadorial role with the Football Association and, he hopes, continue to lead Liverpool in the Champions League for several seasons to come.
“I haven’t made my decision on the back of the World Cup. I’ve made my decision on my age, my body, being fair to Liverpool, especially with the Champions League back – that was a huge factor,” he said.
“To ask my body now, the way it is and what it has been through, to play international football and domestic football was too much of an ask.
“It is strange in a way because I still feel as though I could play for England in September, October, November. I’m still in great physical condition. But big picture-wise, over the next two, three, four years the best thing for my body is to step aside.”
Gerrard’s resignation, which he had alluded to before the tournament in Brazil, leaves England manager Roy Hodgson with few standout candidates to take over the armband.
Striker Wayne Rooney and goalkeeper Joe Hart are among the favourites, despite both men facing calls to be dropped during the past 12 months.
Hodgson, who asked Gerrard to stay on following the World Cup, called him “an incredible man and a fantastic footballer”.
He added: “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.”
Caps: 114 n Goals 21
Games as captain: 38
Wins as captain: 20
Debut: vs Ukraine, May 2000 (England won 2-0)
Last game: vs Uruguay, June 2014 (England lost 2-1)
Major tournaments: 6 (Euro 2000, 2004, 2008 and World Cup 2006, 2010 and 2014)
Highlight: Scoring 25-yarder in 5-1 defeat of Germany in Munich
Low point: Mis-header setting up Luis Suarez to eliminate England at 2014 World Cup