• World Cup

Money spoiling young English players - Gerrard

ESPN staff
June 24, 2014
Gerrard's was distraught after his mistimed header allowed Luis Suarez to score Uruguay's winner last Thursday © Getty Images

Steven Gerrard has claimed the number of young players coming through with the hunger to represent England is falling because of the money in the game.

The midfielder, who as captain presided over England's worst performance at a World Cup in 56 years, said the pool of players available for the national side was too small and that it would continue to shrink unless drastic changes are made.

Asked in an interview with BBC Sport whether football was guilty of turning teenagers into millionaires too soon, Gerrard said: "It has an impact on certain individuals.

"Those who want the money, the fame and everything that comes with football, of course it will have an effect.

"If you have the right mentality and the right character, you do things right and work as hard as you can to become the best player you can, but we need more of those players."

Gerrard also accused English football of trying to "have its cake and eat it" with the popularity of a Premier League packed full of foreign imports.

"We've got the best league in the world and the reason is because we've got some terrifically talented foreign players," Gerrard said. "They've helped me to become the player I am today, so to say they've all got to go and it just had to be English is too extreme.

"But on the other hand we've got to be very careful. The England manager and players do need some help. This pool of players to pick from can't get any smaller. If anything it's got to grow.

"We've got to get the balance right of still having the best league in the world, but expanding that pool of players for this England manager and the England managers in the future to pick from."

Gerrard insisted the 23 players in England's current World Cup squad still had the "hunger and desire" to play for their country and said there was "huge disappointment" that their campaign in Brazil had ended prematurely.

England were knocked out of the group stage after two defeats, losing to Italy in the heat of Manaus before Gerrard's mistime header allowed Liverpool team-mate Luis Suarez to score the winner for Uruguay in Sao Paulo.

"I haven't slept much and I keep asking myself why it's gone wrong so soon," Gerrard said. "It's a very difficult position to be in as a player."

Gerrard, who is yet to make a decision on his international future, said he was still optimistic about England's future but his words were laced with caution.

"There's still optimism and belief for the next two years because, if I look at where we were against Italy two years ago [at Euro 2012], when we sat on the edge of our box and chased shadows - I came away from that game feeling really upset and hurt.

"But in the games against Italy and Uruguay this time round, I think we put up a very good fight. I think the youngsters have done themselves proud.

"The easy thing for me to do is to say everything is going to be fine in two years and that we're going to go on and win the Euros, but it's not as easy as that. It's tough at this level.

"I hope that we can improve and do better in two years, but we will have to wait and see."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
ESPN staff Close