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By ESPN Staff
Aug 13, 2006

Gerrard slams England's over-confidence

Steven Gerrard has blamed England's World Cup failure on over-confidence.

The England midfielder admits the team were not good enough to succeed in Germany this summer and after being so bullish, their quarter-final exit to Portugal was embarrassing.

The Liverpool star has also criticised manager Sven-Goran Eriksson for selecting Theo Walcott, claiming the teenage Arsenal striker had no right to be in the squad.

Gerrard has revealed his opinions in his autobiography, extracts of which have been published in the News of the World.

Gerrard wrote: 'It pains me to admit this but it needs saying. We were not as good as we thought we were.

'On arriving in Germany, England were guilty of over-confidence.

'It was ours for the taking. No one was better than us. Me and the other players placed too much pressure on ourselves by constantly claiming we could win the World Cup.

'Stupid. We talked ourselves up too much. Never again. In future tournaments we must learn to be humble. Be calm.

'We went around Germany blowing our own trumpet and returned home mute with embarrassment. I went back to England with only regrets for souvenirs and I was not alone.'

The selection of untried 17-year-old Walcott raised eyebrows at the time and later proved to be a mistake as the player did not feature in any of the games.

Gerrard added: 'A few decisions were wrong, like not taking five strikers. He certainly shouldn't have brought Theo Walcott to Germany.

'Not only were England embarking on an arduous World Cup campaign with only four forwards but one of them was Theo Walcott.

'I almost fell over when I heard. Now let's get one or two things right about Theo. He's a nice lad and one day he will mature into a very good player.

'But he had no right to be in Germany. None at all. I was gobsmacked to find him on the plane.'

The World Cup came at the end of a long and successful domestic season for Gerrard, which had culminated in FA Cup success with Liverpool.

Yet the previous summer, shortly after winning the Champions League, the 26-year-old had agonised over a move to Chelsea.

Gerrard had grown tired of waiting for Liverpool to offer him a new deal and handed in a transfer request to try to speed to process up. He admits he did not realise it would be made public.

He added: 'They so nearly drove me out of Anfield. Liverpool's approach was: `Sign when we say and, if you agree, we'll tell you how much the deal is worth'.

'As captain of Liverpool I deserved to be treated with more respect. I was not some spotty kid just up from the Academy.

'I felt I was being taken for granted. Why didn't Liverpool act quickly? After Istanbul, they thought that because we'd won the Champions League it didn't matter when my deal got signed. But it bloody mattered to me.

'But I listened to may dad, brother and my heart and came to one conclusion: I couldn't leave Liverpool.'