Steven Gerrard playfully mocked Sir Alex Ferguson during a wide-reaching interview in the buildup to England’s friendlies against Chile and Germany.
The Three Lions captain—who was oddly outlined as "not a top, top player" by Ferguson in his autobiography, per Sky Sports—appears mightily relaxed as the nation prepares for next summer’s festivities in Brazil.
As reported by Dominic King of the Daily Mail, Gerrard’s international career has far outweighed the expectations of a player who is level-headed enough not to let the former Manchester United manager’s words irritate him:
107 caps isn’t bad for someone who isn’t “a top, top player”, is it? I never expected to get that amount of caps.
When I made my debut, I set myself the personal target of trying to get 50 caps and score 10 goals if I could.
Gerrard built on his tongue-in-cheek nod toward Ferguson, suggesting he isn’t bothered by the Scotsman’s revelation, especially as he tried to pluck the midfielder away from Anfield on at least one occasion:
Listen, he’s entitled to his opinion. I’m a fan of his; he is one of the best managers in the world. I won’t lose any sleep over it.
Throughout my career I have had praise from all types of people - including him - and I am not vain enough to take it all. I have had some unbelievable praise from him and he tried to buy me, certainly on one occasion. Maybe even two.
At 33 years old, Gerrard has been at the heart of Liverpool and England teams that have enjoyed successful starts to the season.
His two goals and four assists in 11 appearances for the Reds, per WhoScored—plus the sealing goal during England’s 2-0 World Cup qualification win over Poland—highlight an individual who has adapted his game brilliantly across the last couple of years.
He is no longer the gut-busting midfielder who would constantly burst forward from deep; Gerrard’s style has become increasingly thoughtful, controlled and calculated.
Liverpool are currently two points off Arsenal at the top of the Premier League, while the nation’s prospects remain optimistic under Roy Hodgson, who has England playing pressure-free football.
Despite his club success, Gerrard wishes of receiving plaudits for the Three Lions. He doesn’t necessarily mean a World Cup final, but instead, he wishes to put on a performance that will make the nation proud.
The loyal player hints he may have a retirement decision to make after Brazil, where he aims to lead England past the quarterfinals:
For me the ambition is this: can I help get the team past a quarter-final?
I haven’t really thought about what I will do after the World Cup. It is all about going to enjoy this World Cup. What an experience it will be in Brazil. I am absolutely delighted to help the team get there, it was a great achievement. But now the attention has to switch to: what can we do there?
Gerrard is unlikely to feature during England’s game with Chile, reported by Charles Perrin of the Express.
Even if he isn’t on the pitch, you can bet the veteran midfielder will still hold great influence over a team that is beginning to thrive under the weight-free assertion of grounded expectations.