Monday, 24 May 2010

Gerrard: I Won't Let Real Speculation Spoil This World Cup

SPECULATION over Steven Gerrard’s long-awaited departure from Anfield will NOT spoil his performances at next month’s World Cup.

Gerrard, constantly linked with Real Madrid this time around, admits transfer gossip affected his performances in Germany four years ago but he insists: “I won’t make that mistake again. People around me are under strict instructions not to be talking about my club future or any speculation – it’s not important now.”

One of English football’s best known faces – part of a golden generation which includes Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and John Terry – says simply: “I’m not really interested at the moment in what’s going on at Liverpool. The biggest thing you can do as a player is win the World Cup.

“There’s still a lot of ambition in me to go and achieve big things. But this might be my last World Cup – I turn 30 soon and the next one in Brazil is four years away.

“My thinking is just to make the most of this one. I fell into the trap four years ago at the last World Cup in Germany. I was driving myself mad thinking about my future – this time I won’t make this mistake.

“I feel as if I am experienced enough now to park issues like that. If other people want to talk about my future, I can’t control that.

“For me, I am really focused and determined at the moment to put all my energy into playing for England.

“But four years ago I used to go back to my room and read the papers, go on the internet and then I would speak to people at home, who were telling me that there was stuff going on.

“I knew that Chelsea were very interested because my agent was telling me. But this year, that won’t be happening. Every time I went back to my room I was driving myself mad thinking about whether I should go to Chelsea or not.

“Mentally, it might have drained me. I don’t know if it did or not but it might have. What is important is that I have a good and successful World Cup with the team. Agents, friends and family have been told not to be talking to me about club stuff.

“You don’t know what the reason was for me not doing myself justice in Portugal in the European Championships and at the World Cup in Germany.

“As a team, we weren’t successful in ’04 and ’06 and not many players came out of it with flying colours, so hopefully this time it will be different.

“The squad is a lot more experienced and the quality is there. The question now is can we go out on the pitch and prove we can be successful enough to challenge for the World Cup?”

There’s no question this has been one of the toughest season’s of Gerrard’s Liverpool career. While the American owners attempt to sell the club, Rafa Benitez could only guide his side to a lowly seventh in the Premier League after failing to see the Reds through to the knock-out stages of the Champions League.

Off the field, Gerrard has been subjected to all kinds of internet rumours and the Daily Mail snapped a picture of his wife Alex Curran without her wedding ring when they investigated the shocking but unsubstantiated claims.

Four years ago, when Gerrard considered joining Chelsea following the arrival of Roman Abramovich’s billions, the move fell through amid death threats to his family.

But it looks like this may be the year Gerrard finally makes the break from his home town with Jose Mourinho’s imminent arrival at Real Madrid the major talking point.

Currently training in Austria before arriving in England’s Phokeng training ground at the Royal Marang next week, said: “After this World Cup, you have three or four weeks’ holiday to consider what the next best move will be for you.

“But also, that depends on how well we do in the World Cup and also what the manager is thinking – so that might be taken out of your hands.

“It has been a disappointing season at club level so, yes, it’s definitely a case of hoping to make up for that at the World Cup and trying to achieve something with England.

“This season was a massive disappointment after finishing second the previous year.

“The challenge for me was can we go one step further? But we took steps backwards.

“Hopefully, things might happen at Liverpool while I’m away. There might be players coming in to help strengthen the team.”rengthen the team.”

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