ENGLAND captain Steven Gerrard is proud and humbled to be equalling World Cup-winning skipper Bobby Moore’s haul of 108 caps.
The Liverpool midfielder will draw level with Moore in tonight’s Wembley friendly with Germany, the opposition when Moore lifted the World Cup trophy in 1966.
“I’m very humbled to get to 108 caps alongside Bobby Moore,” Gerrard said. “Very proud and slightly embarrassed as well. He’s a hero to everyone in the country. A World Cup winner and an iconic figure. To equal his record is a fantastic achievement. Myself and my family are very, very proud.”
Gerrard’s focus is to finish on the winning side in a match which concludes the Football Association’s 150th anniversary celebrations.
“Every time you play against Germany you want to win the game,” Gerrard added. “For me the important thing is to try to get the right result against Germany so I can look back on it with fond memories.”
England manager Roy Hodgson paid tribute to Gerrard, who played for him at Liverpool and helped to make it a smooth transition when the manager was brought in ahead of Euro 2012.
“He’s brought an enormous amount over the years,” Hodgson said. “The leaders we often think about are people who go around screaming and shouting, who have got 101 strong opinions about everything. My idea of a leader is someone like Steven Gerrard. Someone who has got clear opinions, is strong in his opinions, but all of his work he does on the field of play, in the dressing room with the players.
“With Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard as excellent deputies, they are people who have a very strong influence on the dressing room, because everyone looks up to them. For Steven to equal Bobby Moore’s number of caps, I’m sure he must be unbelievably proud of that because Bobby Moore is one of our very true iconic players in the past.”
Gerrard has played against Germany three times, winning twice, but the most recent meeting was a 4-1 loss in South Africa in the 2010 World Cup finals. The skipper has not watched the game again, but he has also not seen the 5-1 World Cup qualifying win from September 2001 when he scored his first international goal. His other appearance was his second cap, a 1-0 win at Euro 2000.
“I don’t really watch defeats,” Gerrard said. “I didn’t really watch the full game when we won 5-1, either. I’m not really a player who looks back. I always try to look to the future. I think the Germany players have moved on as well. It’s a different game. What happened in 2001 and 2010, whenever it was, it’s not going to have any impact on the result tomorrow. It’s a different game.
“We want to do it tomorrow. Try to put right what went wrong. We want to win the game and we want to keep trying to improve and try to build on the recent performances against Montenegro and Poland.”
Unusually, Hodgson revealed his starting line-up on the eve of the match after hosting a rare full open training session. Joe Hart, who is under much scrutiny, starts in goal, while there are just two survivors from the team which lost to Chile on Friday night in Wayne Rooney, who starts up front alongside Daniel Sturridge, and Southampton’s Adam Lallana, who did enough on his debut to earn a second cap. “We will be doing our level best to send them home empty-handed,” Hodgson said. “I fully believe we’ve got a great group of players. I believe in the team. I believe in what we’re trying to do as a team. If you’re going to prove you’re as good as any opponent, there’s only one way to do it. It’s on the field. We’re all fully aware of that.”
Germany manager Joachim Low last night singled out Tottenham Hotspur winger Andros Townsend as a danger-man and, despite not winning a tournament since 1966, he backed England as a constant power in world football.
Low said: “England have been and always will be one of the big footballing nations, if you ask me. Looking in from the outside, (Steven) Gerrard, (Frank) Lampard and (Wayne) Rooney are players of elite calibre with a wealth of experience behind them. Andros Townsend is very quick and dynamic, and they have impressive wide players.
“England may be tactically different from Italy, but they are still playing with tremendous force, they have great tackling power and a very dynamic approach to the game. And they have individual players who with a solo effort can decide a game if need be.”