Gerrard hopes not to pay penalty

BY foxsports • February 22, 2010

England's Steven Gerrard will be practising penalties ahead of this summer's World Cup in an attempt to avoid a repeat of his 2006 heartbreak.

Gerrard, along with Frank Lampard and Jamie Carragher, missed in the Gelsenkirchen shoot-out against Portugal as England crashed out at the quarter-final stage in Germany four years ago.

Despite being a good penalty taker for Liverpool, Gerrard admits he could not handle the pressure of taking a spot-kick for England, and it led to goalkeeper Ricardo parrying his effort.

After losing on penalties in major tournaments in 1990, 1996, 1998, 2004 and 2006, Gerrard wants to make sure England will succeed if matches go the distance in South Africa.

"I think, having missed the penalty, I'll probably be a bit more composed next time and take my time a bit more," Gerrard said.

"I'll work that little bit harder in training to make sure I know what I'm going to be doing. It all happened really fast in 2006 and I felt after the penalties that I should have taken my time more.

"It is massive pressure but that's what we've got to do, we've got to try and handle that pressure. I didn't handle it in 2006, so, if I'm put in that situation again, I will try and deal with the pressure a lot better.

"But it's difficult, it's not like taking a normal penalty in practice - you've got so much responsibility. You know all the fans back home are watching and, when you're tired, when you're under so much pressure, that's when mistakes happen and that's what happened to me in 2006."

Under-21 coach Stuart Pearce, who is in the backroom staff of the seniors, makes his youngsters take penalties after every training session.

England boss Fabio Capello, with a reputation for being thorough in his preparations, would be expected to get his players right for a shoot-out if they fail to settle a match in 120 minutes.

Gerrard told fifa.com: "He'll bring many qualities to the team. He's a winner; he's got an unbelievable amount of experience and has enjoyed a remarkable amount of success.

"He's transmitting a winning mentality to the team, so fingers crossed that will stand us in good stead for the tournament."

Capello has given Gerrard a unique role for England, starting on the left flank then interchanging with Wayne Rooney as a support forward.

It has led to a convincing qualifying campaign and high levels of expectations when the tournament kicks off in June, with England facing USA, Algeria and Slovenia in Group C.

"As players, we have to deal with the expectations and the pressure of playing for England," Gerrard added. "The supporters and media are very passionate about the country and a lot is expected of us. It's important that we, as players, cope with that in the best way we can.

"We are pleased with the draw and we're very confident that we can qualify from the group but, at the same time, we have to show the teams respect. (They) are desperate to beat England. We know they're going to play the game of their lives, so we need to make sure we perform well to win."

Although Capello has not formerly announced his skipper and deputy following John Terry's axing, he implied Gerrard will be vice-captain to Rio Ferdinand.

Gerrard, insisting his game is not affected by wearing the armband, said: "It's exactly the same. When I play for England, when I'm not captain, I still approach it exactly the same as if I am captain and I try and go out there and lead by example, so I can help my team-mates and do the right thing.

"So, although it is nice to be captain and it's a privilege, you approach the game exactly the same with an armband on or off."

Meanwhile, Manchester United striker Michael Owen, who has scored 40 goals for England, admits he has little chance of going to the World Cup.

"It's been a long time since I was in the England squad," Owen told BBC Radio Five Live. "You never give up but it's probably a long shot in racing terms."

Ahead of the tournament, Japan have announced a friendly against England on May 30 in Austria.


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