After a disappointing World Cup, Steven Gerrard has decided to retire from international football at the age of 34. The Liverpool legend was often criticised for not performing on the International stage – something that could be said of the majority of England sides this century – the 114 appearances and 21 goals for his national side could argue against that. Gerrard has decided to focus on his domestic career with Liverpool for the rest of his career, and with another season in Europe on the cards you can see his thinking.
With Roy Hodgson experimenting with a new-looking youthful side in recent times and looking to continue this trend in the future the question is who will replace him as England captain? LS looks over some of the potential candidates to take the armband from Stevie G….
With Gerrard and Frank Lampard on their way out of the international scene, Rooney is now the most capped player in the squad with 95 international appearances. He can be a very vocal character and the pride and passion is most definitely there, but will Wazza be able to cope with the added responsibility of the captaincy? He is not known for his public speaking, something the captain normally has to deal with, and the added pressure put on by the media if he took the armband would be huge. Wayne hasn’t exactly been the model professional in his time representing his country – being in the prestigious group of players to be sent off twice for England – which could stand against him in the race for the armband. Forwards aren’t always the desired choice either, which could rule the Manchester United ace out of the running.
Jagielka has stepped into the role of first choice centre back with Rio Ferdinand and John Terry leaving the England set up, but with only 28 caps to his name has he got the experience and respect to deserve the armband? He definitely has the experience after leading Everton to fifth place last year whilst captaining the side, and he could easily make the step up to the international stage. In a fairly youthful side, the 31 year old Jagielka does have a few years on a lot of his teammates, and handing him the captaincy may be a confidence boost to make him the powerful and dominating centre back the nation craves. His age could work against him as the FA will probably look to someone who will be a long term replacement, but in reality Jagielka only really has one major tournament left in him. Could definitely do the job for Euro 2016 qualifiers if required.
Most people using social media will have seen a shrieking Joe Hart demanding a ball for a goal kick in England’s game against Italy…. and most would have loved what they were seeing! The anger at losing was clear to see on Hart’s face and he characterised all England fans’ feelings throughout the tournament in Brazil. Aside from a small blip at the start of the season, Hart has been a consistent performer for both club and country over a number of years, and is sure to be between the sticks for many years to come. At 27 he is still young for a goalkeeper and still has his best years in front of him, so would be an ideal replacement as he will be involved in the England scene for many years to come. Although he has little experience being a captain his authority in defence would have already demanded the respect from many of his fellow players. Goalkeepers aren’t always a preferred choice, would be a great choice for many fans though.
One person who will have learnt the most from the departing England captain will be Henderson, after playing together for both Liverpool and England. He seems a firm favourite with Roy Hodgson and could be the player to take Gerrard’s place in the centre of the park. The whole of the midfield will be very inexperienced when England next take to the field against Norway on September 3rd, but none work harder than the industrious Henderson. He would certainly lead by example with his nonstop running all over the pitch, and that commitment is exactly what England needs. His age could be an issue, as those making the decisions will want someone with the experience of dealing with the media and all other engagements being England captain involves. Could definitely be a contender for leading his country in years to come, just a bit too soon this time.