The dream arrives for the ultimate force that is Stevie G

Liverpool's marathon man insists his stamina will not fail him as he rises to the demands

Blessed with those exquisite footballing features seemingly cut from solid English oak, Steven Gerrard has been part of the England furniture for so long that it is difficult to believe that his World Cup recollections do not extend back far beyond Italia 90. But that's all he was then; an exhilarated 10-year-old.

"Yeah, my first World Cup I can remember watching properly was the 1990, when Gazza was the main man," recalls the Liverpool captain and England midfielder. "Gazza was on fire. He was such an exciting player to watch. Great memories, obviously." Until a cauldron of Paul Gascoigne's potion of enrichment turned into a recept-acle for his anguished tears, you refrain from pointing out, lest it destroys the image for him.

Nevertheless, those scenes from the prelude to that evening in Turin, of Gascoigne and Lin-eker and Co en route to the semi-finals, provided fertile inspiration in a child's imagination. "I loved playing football when I was a kid, and I wanted to be like those players, I dreamed of being like them," he says. "If someone had said, 'You're going to play in a World Cup when you're that age', I wouldn't have believed them. But I've worked really hard to get where I am, so now I want to make the most of it."

That opportunity has been a long time coming. Contributing just 19 minutes as a substitute in Euro 2000 as a 20-year-old, a groin injury made him an enforced absentee from the last World Cup. Euro 2004 finally offered a stage for his talents, although Gerrard's most telling contribution was an erroneous back-pass which gifted France victory in added time.

In Germany, he should be at the zenith of his powers, despite a season which has seen him travel from the Brecon Beacons, and the Welsh team TNS, to, potentially, Berlin and a World Cup final on 9 July. If he reaches that destination, he would have spent four days shy of a year on the road, with only a rare interruption, including a week off after the birth of his daughter Lexy early last month.

Gerrard laughs at my slight exaggeration of his season's record, that he is approaching his century of games. It isonly 61, after all. He insists that his stamina will not fail him, or England. "I feel exactly as I did before the first game of the season," he maintains. "I feel happy, I feel excited. I'm looking forward to my next game. It's as simple as that. It's everybody else talking about fatigue. I still feel fresh. I'm not worried about burning out or being tired."

Unlike some, Gerrard appears actually to thrive on the demands made of him. What no one can say is precisely where he carries out those duties to his optimum. Right, left, central, advanced, very advanced, in a holding role? The truth is that you can position him anywhere in the house that Sven Goran Eriksson still has under construction. Nowhere does Gerrard appear incongruous with the surround-ing decorations. On Tuesday, against Hungary, he was given a rare deployment: second striker, behind his former Anfield team-mate Michael Owen. He scored, but didn't look entirely comfortable.

"I am not going to master the role in one game," he stressed. "I need more time in there to improve. Although I am no Wayne Rooney there I still think I can be effective. I tried my best and I enjoyed it. I was demanding the ball even though their number six was following me everywhere. Once we got the breakthrough I thought I opened up more and got more tackles in. I have played the role on numer-ous occasions for Liverpool and I love playing further up."

He adds: "Of course, I know what my best position is. It's where Frank [Lampard] plays. He's one of the best in the world at doing it and he's done really well for England there in the last couple of years, so I have no complaints. Sometimes you have to sacrifice yourself for the team and play where the manager wants you to play. You can't afford to have an ego playing for England."

If he wasn't involved you could imagine Gerrard as a St George flag-waving patriot, convinced of England's right to that elusive trophy. As a player who has faced the world's finest performers, he is endowed with a vein of cold, hard rationale which convinces him that dangers will materialise from many directions, not merely from Brazil.

"There's so much expectation, and people tend to get carried away and think you just go there with the best players, you win four or five games and you win the World Cup," he said. "It's not like that. You've got 32 teams, every single one is desperate to win it, and 70 to 80 per cent of teams going there are full of world-class players and are very difficult to play against.

"The obvious names, on paper, are Brazil and Argentina. But I just think that the most dangerous teams are the hosts, Germany, and Spain, who have so much talent. And, of course, there's always one or two surprises in tournaments that I've experienced that don't even get a mention at the start, and then they're there round the semis and finals, like Greece.

"If you are being realistic, yes, we have got a good chance of winning it. On our day, we're as strong as anyone that's going. But to win a tournament over that period of time, you need everything to go your way."

As his earliest World Cup memories, those of 1990, will always serve to remind him.

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
beauty
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
transfers
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Sport
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
film
News
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
News
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Sport
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Sport
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
tv
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
tech
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice