England captain Steven Gerrard admits his international career is tinged with regret after successive sides failed to capitalise on their talent.
The Liverpool midfielder has been a mainstay in the team ever since making his debut in 2000 against Ukraine, being involved in six major international tournaments with the side during that time.
The 32-year-old is now entering the final stages of what has been an illustrious playing career and admits that, considering the quality they have had available, England have underachieved in recent tournaments.
“It’s a must for me to qualify from a personal, selfish point of view. An absolute must,” Gerrard told the Daily Mirror.
“On one level, it’s about the chance to compete against the best sides and individuals on the planet. On another, it’s about having that small chance of coming back as heroes in an England shirt, which I have never experienced.
“I don’t feel I have done myself justice at a World Cup. I don’t think any England player of this generation can think they have.
“I have always come out of the tournaments with England with regrets that we haven’t gone to that extra stage, the last four or the last two. I take some of the responsibility for that.
“I have always been honest and said I am part of that squad of 23 players that comes back having underachieved.”
Roy Hodgson’s side currently lie second in their group and go into their next two qualifying games against both San Marino and Montenegro needing all six points, but Gerrard has vowed not to underestimate either side.
“The danger with England is that after a result like the one against Brazil, everyone gets carried away,” he said.
“Everyone starts assuming we’ve already qualified for 2014 and before you know it, people will be talking about us as one of the favourites. That type of thinking is dangerous.
“Things are moving forward. Things are progressing well. The manager’s doing the right things and creating the right atmosphere.
“But at this level it can change in an instant – one bad result, one bad team performance and the nation can lose a lot of confidence in the team.
“The next two games are about trying to ensure that doesn’t happen.”
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