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Gerrard 'relief' at World Cup qualification

ESPN staff
October 16, 2013
Qualification just the start for England players

England captain Steven Gerrard has expressed his "relief" at qualifying for the 2014 World Cup, but has called for his team-mates to stay humble as they prepare for football's showpiece tournament in Brazil.

Gerrard capped off victory with a goal in the final minutes at Wembley after Wayne Rooney headed the home nation in front shortly before half time.

However, Gerrard admitted there were times he feared it would not be England's night and that they would have had to settle for a play-off place.

"It has been a collective effort over two years. It was nice to get on the score sheet, I cannot describe the pressure on the lads," Gerrard told the BBC. "We have proved there is hope. There is big confidence within the group. It is important to stay humble, as there is a long way to go.

"The manager has created a great blend of youth and experience. It was a relief, it was very emotional at times. We have had a lot of criticism, so to get over the line was a lot of relief.

"The tension has been immense, even in the game. At the back of your mind, you are thinking one mistake could put us in the play-offs.

"It is such a proud feeling. I have had many for my club, but it is nice to do that for your country as well. It has been a long couple of days since Friday. We had a lot of time to kill. I had total belief and confidence. We must now stay humble and grounded."

Meanwhile, man of the match Wayne Rooney suggested patience was the key to England's victory against the Poles, with his opening goal calming a few fraying nerves at Wembley just before half-time.

"A big part of our preparations was being patient,"Rooney said. "We maintained our concentration and focus and fully deserved the win. We have always remained positive no matter what has been said.

"We had a great focus and believe about ourselves. Going into these two games there was a lot of belief amongst the players, amongst the manager and we have gone out and showed that we are good team.

"We have some fantastic young players in the team and some good experienced players as well. We are excited. These are good times for England."

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