Sport Comment: Could this be defining year for Gerrard?

John Inverdale
IN AN idle moment over the past fortnight of sloth and general indulgence (with apologies to those of you who’ve been at the coalface without a break) I came upon Liverpool’s official website, and the profile of their captain Steven Gerrard.

“Once in a generation,” it reads, “a player comes along to whom nothing seems impossible,” and the piece continues with the type of glowing tribute normally reserved for North Korean political leaders. Almost as an afterthought is it mentioned that Gerrard also happens to captain his country.

Sadly, galvanising his national team would seem to be the one thing that Stevie G has found impossible during his illustrious career. Experts may carp at perceived inadequacies within Gerrard’s game, but there can be no questioning his longevity, commitment levels, and ability to rise above the mediocrity that has often surrounded him. And after 600-odd games for his club and more than 100 for his country, just possibly we are embarking on the annus mirabilis of one of our most outstanding players of this century.

While it’s hard to remember a World Cup so lacking in hype and expectation from an English perspective, such a realistic reflection on the team’s current stature may be just what’s required. But are Italy really that good? Uruguay? Costa Rica? Come through the group and, to coin a phrase, nothing is impossible.

Twelve months ago it was a safe bet that if Andy Murray ended 77 years of hurt and won Wimbledon he would be named BBC Sports Personality of the Year for 2013, and so it duly came to pass. Forty-eight years on from Bobby Moore, and 30 years on from that famous John Barnes goal in Brazil, could this be the year not just for England but for Steven Gerrard? It’s got be worth a bet – if only a small one.