• Sweden v England, preview

Gerrard declines Zlatan's offer of advice

ESPN staff
November 14, 2012
Steven Gerrard is preparing for his 100th England appearance © PA Photos

England captain Steven Gerrard has politely declined the advice of Swedish counterpart Zlatan Ibrahimovic, after the striker suggested Gerrard should leave Liverpool for a more 'international' club.

Gerrard, 32, will become just the sixth player to reach 100 caps for the Three Lions when he leads out the side at the Friends Arena on Wednesday evening. The midfielder has admitted to feeling "nervous" ahead of the landmark game, which will also see manager Roy Hodgson give debuts to the next generation of players - including Raheem Sterling and Steven Caulker.

Ahead of the match Gerrard was told to leave Liverpool by Ibrahimovic, who has played for clubs throughout Europe including Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan and now Paris St Germain. Gerrard, in contrast, has played for the same club his whole career - and insists he is content at Anfield despite what others may suggest.

"I'm a big fan of Zlatan as a player but I'm not going to take his advice," Gerrard said. "I am very happy at Liverpool and in my opinion I am at one of the biggest clubs in the world, a team that has won the European Cup five times.

"So I'm happy where I am, but thanks for his opinion."

As far as his international career goes, Gerrard acknowledged it has not been as successful as it might have been - suggesting his body of work paled in comparison to the World Cup-winning centurions, Sir Bobby Charlton and Bobby Moore, that preceded him.

"If they are a 10 I would rate myself as a six or seven," he said. "[Moore and Charlton] will always be heroes of mine and heroes of English football.

"In football, hero and legend status get given out far too easily. As far as playing for England goes, there are maybe 14 or 15 heroes. The rest haven't really delivered.

"I totally agree that group of players underachieved at big tournaments. It should certainly have got to a semi-final. I know we were unlucky at times in the penalty shoot-outs but that is certainly a regret now."

Gerrard briefly contemplated quiting international football after experiencing yet another disappointment in a major tournament at this summer's European Championships - where England lost to Italy in the quarter-finals - but revealed the emergence of talented youngsters like Sterling and Jack Wilshere persuaded him to continue.

"When you are my age and have another disappointment with England, quitting crosses your mind," said Gerrard. "After the Italy disappointment, I had a decision to make. But knowing players like Jack were coming through made me feel it was worth hanging about and carrying on for a couple more years to see if things change.

"If we can produce more players on Jack's level, maybe we have got a chance of going far in a tournament."

Sweden player to watch: As the captain of his country in the new stadium that is the pride of the nation, Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be desperate to ensure the arena is christened with a victory. His genuine killer-instinct at the forefront of an attack that is talented but inconsistent will give England's inexperienced backline the most cause for concern.

England player to watch: Steven Gerrard will be the centre of attention on his historic night, but what will we really learn about him in this game? Far more interesting will be the progress of another Steven, Caulker - who will face the sort of quality he has only fleetingly been exposed to in his young career. Can he show enough ability and assurance to suggest in the future he can be one half of a pairing that will end up the long-term successor to the now-defunct partnership of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand?

Betting: The selection of numerous talented youngsters has diverted attention from the fact that many of England's most experienced and talented players are absent from Wednesday's friendly. Shorn of the likes of Wayne Rooney, England to lose at full-time after drawing at half-time is worth a flutter at 9/2 with bet365.

Prediction: 2-1.

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