London – England captain Steven Gerrard has dismissed as “nonsense” the notion that his international teammates are not motivated by the prospect of playing for their country.
The 33-year-old Liverpool midfielder will be a key player in England's final two World Cup qualifiers at home to Montenegro on Friday and Poland next Tuesday.
Back-to-back victories will guarantee Roy Hodgson's side a place in Brazil next year, but anything less could leave England either in the play-offs or eliminated altogether.
When England failed to qualify for the 2008 European Championship, there were accusations in the British media that the players did not care, but Gerrard says nothing could be further from the truth.
“It's nonsense to say that. Nonsense,” Gerrard told British newspaper the Daily Mirror.
“The pain and the agony – how long that lasted after we didn't qualify for Euro 2008 – I wish you could bottle that and show it to people who say those things and doubt how much we care.
“We care. Trust me, we care. No one cares more than the players. We understand the fans and media are passionate, but that's certainly the case in the dressing room.
“It's a shame the supporters and certain people can't go into the dressing room and see how we prepare and how much we want this. The word I use when people bring it up is just 'nonsense'.” – Sapa-AFP