Miracles happen so England can win 2014 World Cup in Brazil, says Steven Gerrard - International - Football - The Independent

Miracles happen so England can win 2014 World Cup in Brazil, says Steven Gerrard

Road to Brazil (a graveyard for European teams) begins tonight and captain insists 'don't stop believing'

Chisinau

On the eve of another two-year qualifying campaign for a major tournament, Steven Gerrard last night appealed to the English football nation to keep the faith that England could win the 2014 World Cup. “You never stop believing in football,” said the England captain. “Miracles do happen.”

Roy Hodgson's team face Moldova in Chisinau tonight in qualifying Group H, in the first step towards what they hope will be the tournament in Brazil in 21 months' time. A European nation has never won any of the seven World Cup finals held in north, central and South America but Gerrard said that should not deter England.

He said: "When I speak I'm realistic and honest. At the moment, we're not one of the favourites to win the World Cup. That doesn't mean you stop believing, working hard to improve and to try to learn from the mistakes you've made at previous tournaments. This team has every chance to improve and get better in the next few years, with players coming through and those players with experience. We have to have that faith and keep believing."

The team trained at the Zimbru Stadium, where earlier fears about the playing surface proved to have foundation. The ground, which holds just 10,500, has an uneven pitch with relatively long grass, although the local federation claimed it would cut it before the game. Hodgson has already lost three of the 24 players he selected for tonight's game and Tuesday's qualifier at home to Ukraine.

The last England manager to lose the first qualifying game of a campaign was Kevin Keegan against Germany in 2000, and he resigned immediately after the match. Hodgson said yesterday that he was not prepared to jettison the more senior players such as Gerrard and Frank Lampard simply because of a public mood for change, opening the possibility the pair may start together.

"Am I concerned [about age of senior players come 2014]? No," said Hodgson. "Otherwise I would be making the decision not to use anyone who is 30 when the World Cup comes along, and speculating on the young ones getting us to Brazil. The first thing we have to do is qualify. Many people think that's a simple task. We don't believe that.

"We have to play well to qualify. To do that, I need all the players at my disposal who can get us there. Then we'll see. There have been a lot of World Cups when people of 35, 36 have made a fantastic impact."

By way of example, Hodgson said that while in charge of Switzerland's 1994 World Cup qualification campaign he had picked the veteran Georges Bregy, who was 36 by the time the team went to the tournament in the United States and was regarded as a key player. The England manager did suggest that Pele had gone to a major championship in his thirties, although the Brazilian's last World Cup finals in 1970 was at the age of 29.

Gerrard, who will be 34 if he makes it to the 2014 World Cup, said that focus on the age of certain players was misplaced. "You should judge players on performances," said Gerrard. "It doesn't matter how old they are. The manager knows who deserves to be picked. You need to be playing well to stay in this team. I remember reading just before the Euros all the journalists who wanted Paul Scholes back in the set-up, and he was 37 at the time. That gives me a few more years!"

The Moldova coach, Ion Caras, said yesterday that his team would, in the modern vernacular, park the bus, and hope to frustrate England. The Moldovans have not scored a goal in their last four games.

"It's very important for the team to keep the goal locked," Caras said. "If the team will go without conceding for a long time it will be better. For every minute they pass without a goal, they get stronger and play better. The hope rises minute to minute."

The Moldova centre-back Igor Armas, who plays for Kuban Krasnodar in the Russian premier league, said that England tended to be a long-ball team.

"English national team is not like the Spanish who play tika-taka," Arnas said. "The English play long balls. They play good football in the air, it will be very important to win the battles in the air."

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week