During 14 years of service to his country, Steven Gerrard was a talisman and an idol to many. However, I can’t help but feel a sense of relief and optimism over his decision to retire from international football.
Of course, as an Englishman I am, and shall forever be grateful for what the Liverpool captain has done for our country. But his decision, which he described as an ‘agonising’ one could be the beginning of a new chapter in English football as the so called ‘golden generation’ we saw 12 years ago in Japan and South Korea finally hang up their boots.
Despite an array of criticism from the British media after our earliest exit from a World Cup since 1956, the few bright sparks for England in Brazil came from our youthful zest. The likes of Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge showed signs that we can be ever so slightly positive about what the future may hold.
It may seem hard to believe but Gerrard's decision – which, in retrospect, I believe to be one of his most mature of his career - may have been influenced by another great captain’s decision to retire from International football just three days prior to his own.
After lifting the World Cup trophy aloft for Germany, Philipp Lahm’s announcement to stand down a week later came as somewhat of a surprise to his fellow countrymen as well as the the rest of the world.
Lahm has achieved the ultimate prize in football, the ‘Holy Grail’ as it were, and through an act of unselfishness, his decision has opened the proverbial gate for others to mould into his role before the European Championships in two years’ time.
It will also allow a new captain – more than likely Bastian Schweinsteiger – to guide this new domineering force of international football through qualifying rounds before tackling the best on the big stage once more.
Gerrard’s decision draws comparison with Lahm's, and the likes of Jack Wilshere – provided he’s fit of course – Ross Barkley, James Milner, and Jordan Henderson are sure to gain a lot more experience in the near future because of his timely departure.
After a World Cup where all onlookers gazed enviously at the German machine that has been manufactured over the course of a ten-year period, we must take Gerrard's retirement as a blessing and look to discover and build our own national identity once more.
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