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Mar 21, 2013

Gerrard: We have failed England

England captain Steven Gerrard admits his generation of Three Lions players have failed their country in attempting to win silverware in a major tournament.

• Preview: England v San Marino

The England squad, currently preparing for the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro, have come so close to tasting glory in a major tournament - the most recent a penalty shoot-out loss to Italy in the quarter-finals of Euro 2012.

But for all their quarter-final and semi-finals appearances, England have squandered their chances of adding another trophy to their 1966 World Cup triumph. And in an honest interview with The Mirror, the 32-year-old Gerrard did not hold back in laying blame at the feet of a generation of players who can arguably described as one of the best in England's history.

"I don't feel I have done myself justice at a World Cup. I don't think any England player of this generation can think they have," he said. "If you spoke to the squad that came back after 1990, they could be satisfied with how close they came and that they did everything they could and had no regrets.

"But I have always come out of the tournaments with England with regrets that we haven't gone to that extra stage, the last four or the last two. I take some of the responsibility for that. I have always been honest and said I am part of that squad of 23 players that comes back having underachieved. You can't hide behind anyone, you have got to take it on the chin and get on with it."

However, Gerrard said a need to etch their names in history was driving this squad into qualifying for Brazil 2014. The Liverpool player even admitting a "selfish" desire to be a Three Lions hero is fuelling his own drive to again grace the world's biggest stage next year.

"It's a must for me to qualify from a personal, selfish point of view," Gerrard said. "An absolute must. On one level, it's about the chance to compete against the best sides and individuals on the planet. On another, it's about having that small chance of coming back as heroes in an England shirt, which I have never experienced.

"I have dreamt about it of course. I am sure everyone has. I have got close to it. Penalty shoot-outs in the last eight are close but not close enough."

Meanwhile, Gerrard's England team-mate Scott Parker believes that 39-year-old Ryan Giggs proves that age is no barrier to playing at the highest level.

"I don't get the age one really," Parker told Sky Sports News. "People are too hell-bent on age, whether it's bringing players through or others being too old. If someone is good enough and playing at their best, you pick them.

"Maybe it's because I am 32, but I saw Ryan Giggs playing against Real Madrid in the Champions League. He was doing more running than anyone else. I do think there is a good blend and certainly a place for senior players with a young squad.

"We said it going into the Euros - that we have got a good blend of senior players and youngsters. I don't buy into the debate at all really. I just think that, if you are fit enough, and the manager feels you are good enough to do the job, you do it."

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