- Euro 2012
Gerrard: Time to silence England critics
England captain Steven Gerrard has told his international team-mates to "seize the moment" and silence the critics by beating Italy in Sunday's Euro 2012 quarter-final.
Gerrard, England's star player so far in the tournament with three assists to his name, will lead his men out in Kiev bidding to guide an England side into a major semi-final for the first time in 16 years.
During that period the Liverpool man has been one of many individuals to receive consistent criticism over England's failure to perform on the biggest stage. The so-called "Golden Generation", of which Gerrard was part, never delivered anything better than a quarter-final, but now Roy Hodgson's squad are on the cusp of ending that drought.
Having finished top of Group D with seven points, belief is beginning to grow in the current England setup, which is based on trust and hard work. And Gerrard insists the players will never forgive themselves if they fail against Italy on Sunday.
"In previous tournaments we just haven't shown what we are capable of. But our performances are getting stronger in this competition," Gerrard said. "That is what gives me the belief and confidence that we can end this hoodoo that people talk about.
"I get told that not many of the current players have figured in quarter-finals, but they are all big-game players and are aware of what is required.
"It is important they seize the moment, seize the opportunity, because from experience, I know they don't come around very often. It is important nobody leaves anything out on the pitch and show the critics we are good enough to compete at this level.''
Gerrard pinpointed the midfield area, where he will come face-to-face with Andrea Pirlo, as the key part of the match, admitting he and Scott Parker could determine England's future.
"It's important that myself and Scott Parker try to control the midfield area. Italy have three world class midfield players and if they control the game then we are going to be in trouble," Gerrard said. "I think the chances [of winning it] are 50-50 and that it will be a very close and difficult game."
Should the match come down to penalties, as England knockout matches often to do, Gerrard is quietly confident the Three Lions have the edge. With Joe Hart in goal, the skipper believes England are in the safest of hands.
"We have one of the best goalkeepers in the world and I think he will go on to become the best in the world," Gerrard concluded.