Steven Gerrard has announced his retirement from international football following the dismal World Cup campaign in Brazil that saw England knocked out at the group stages in their worst ever performance in the prestigious tournament.
The FA confirmed the news via their website, with Gerrard bringing the curtain down on an international career that saw him amass 114 caps and 21 goals for the Three Lions.
In a statement released on the FA’s website, Gerrard said: Gerrard said: “I have enjoyed every minute of representing my country and it is a sad day for me knowing that I won’t pull on the England shirt again.
“However, I do look forward to continuing my strong relationship with The FA and helping out in any way I can going forward.
“I’d like to firstly thank my family and friends for all their support throughout my England journey.
"I’d also like to thank everyone who has been part of my international career, from the England Managers I’ve played under to the staff at The FA and, of course, all the players I’ve been fortunate to play alongside.
“In particular, the supporters have been amazing, not least in Brazil when they got behind the team despite the disappointing results.”
Gerrard reserved special praise for current manager Roy Hodgson, who elected to hand the captain’s armband to the Liverpool skipper on a permanent basis when he took the job back in 2012.
“I’d especially like to thank Roy [Hodgson], firstly for giving me the captaincy permanently when he took the job, making me the proudest man in the country and allowing me to fulfil my childhood dream,” added Gerrard.
“He has been very understanding over the past few weeks and is a man I will always hold in the highest regard.
“This has been a very difficult decision, one of the toughest I’ve had to make in my career. I have agonised over this since coming back from Brazil and have spoken to family, friends and people close to me in the game before coming to this point.
“Most importantly, Brendan [Rodgers] has been fantastic and obviously I have to look after my body as much as possible to ensure I can give everything when I take to the field.
“To ensure I can keep playing to a high level and giving everything to Liverpool Football Club I believe this is the right decision, and having Champions League football back at Anfield is another big factor in my decision.”
Hodgson admitted that he was “disappointed” to see Gerrard end his England career, but recognised that he can have no qualms about the decision given the service the 34-year-old has put in to wearing the Three Lions shirt since his debut in 2000.
“While I’m disappointed in the decision, I can entirely understand Steven’s situation and can have no complaints given the incredible service he has given to his country,” said Hodgson, who will continue as manager of England in their attempt to qualify for the 2016 European Championship.
“I must respect his wishes due to the discussions we have had and the amount of thought and consideration he himself has given it.
“He is an incredible man and a fantastic footballer who we have all been blessed to see in an England shirt so often. 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.
“He is not only a player to bring crowds to their feet with moments of brilliance; he was a tremendous captain and an exceptional role model for everyone who was fortunate to come into contact with him. We shall miss his leadership qualities as we look ahead to the qualification campaign with a youthful group of players.
“I wish him all the best in the future, although I know I can count on his continued support and influence as a helpful presence moving forward.”
FA Chairman Greg Dyke was another who added his praise for Gerrard, commenting: “It is sad news but also gives us the opportunity to celebrate a wonderful career; Steven gave everything for England and he will be missed.
“I saw at first hand his close relationship with Roy, and as a captain he could not have done more for the cause.”
The announcement will spark debate over who should take on the armband in Gerrard’s absence. While Frank Lampard would be one choice, the midfielder looks set to call it a day as well for the international team, given he has struggled to feature in the starting XI recently and is expected to complete a move to MLS side New York City FC in the coming days.
That would leave Wayne Rooney as the obvious choice, with the striker quickly closing in on 100 caps despite being only 28 years of age. The Manchester United forward could face being overlooked by his new club manager Louis van Gaal for the captaincy at Old Trafford given that Robin van Persie is currently the favourite to take on the role, but he has been tipped to take on the international captaincy at some point in his career.
With Rooney currently the bookmakers favourite, Joe Hart is also an option open to Hodgson given that the Manchester City star is a regular starter for his country. Gary Cahill and Jack Wilshere are also in the running, according to the bookies.