Gerrard happy to lead England at last after being overlooked for captain's role in past
23:22 GMT, 25 May 2012
Steven Gerrard will skipper England at Euro 2012 just three months after fearing he would never lead his country again after being overlooked for the role by caretaker boss Stuart Pearce.
Pearce preferred to give the armband to Tottenham midfielder Scott Parker rather than the far more experienced Gerrard for the friendly international with Holland at Wembley.
Leading role: Roy Hodgson (left) trusts Steven Gerrard (right) with the captaincy
But the arrival as new England head coach of Gerrard's former Liverpool boss, Roy Hodgson, has seen him made permanent captain for the first time and he will the side against Norway on Saturday.
Gerrard said: 'I was disappointed not to skipper against Holland. Stuart Pearce said I wasn't going to be captain. I said: “Okay”, but I was disappointed.
'It's not easy when you're told you're not going to be captain.
'He just said he wanted to go with someone else, Scott Parker. Scott's a great player who's done a great job, so I accepted him and the first thing I did was go to him and congratulate him.
'But I thought that was it with the captaincy after that. At the time, I thought maybe Stuart Pearce might be the manager at the Euros so I wouldn't be the captain.
'That's why it was so nice and I enjoyed the phone call I got off Roy Hodgson.'
Gerrard has often been overlooked for the top job – usually at the expense of Rio Ferdinand or John Terry.
Mersey beat: Hodgson speaks with Liverpool players Andy Carroll and Gerrard
He stood in at the disappointing World Cup in 2010, only to relinquish power afterwards.
That is why this feels extra special to him.
He added: 'It feels like the first time I've been official captain. All the other times, I've known the armband was going to go back, either after the tournament or individual games.
'(Former manager) Fabio Capello decided to go with other people – Rio and JT – which was fine because they're fantastic captains.
'Fabio always had belief in me as a player but it was quite clear he didn't have total belief for me to be the official captain.
Smiles better: Gerrard thrilled to get the armband back
'This manager has come in and done that. It's very nice and good for my confidence and belief as well.'
Gerrard is adamant he will relish the extra responsibility of being Hodgson's on-the-field lieutenant.
He said: 'You've got to relish it. I'm sitting here as England captain. It's fantastic. It's something I've always dreamed of.
'When the manager phoned me and told me I was over the moon. I have to relish it and not take it as a pressure.
'I'm an experienced player, I've been in this set-up for a long time, so I feel as if I'm big enough to handle this responsibility.'
Gerrard has seldom operated in his preferred attacking role behind the strikers with England, but refuses to use that as an excuse for not always being at his best.
He said: 'I'm not going to make excuses for some of the poor performances in an England shirt.
'Every time I've been picked, I've had the chance to go out and perform well.
Role reversal: Scott Parker (left) takes instruction from Gerrard
'It's no manager's fault or where I've been asked to play. You can't use that as an excuse. That's my fault. But it's difficult to perform well at this level.
'So, in an ideal situation, you want the manager to put you where you're most comfortable and where you can impact the game to the best of your ability.'
Gerrard knows England have seldom performed to their best in tournaments. But he has urged England to take encouragement from the likes of Liverpool in 2005 and Chelsea last weekend in achieving success – in their instance in the Champions League – when not expected.
He said: 'We've got a responsibility to improve our level of performance.
'If we perform like we did in South Africa, we're going home early.
'If we want to do well here, and achieve what Liverpool did in 2005 and Chelsea this year, we have to perform better but also do what those sides did well to get to the finals.
'It goes to show in these tournaments, when you know you're not the favourites and there are other top sides about, you need to battle hard and need to go where it hurts to get the big prizes.
'If you think you're going to turn up in these tournaments and come back successful, it doesn't happen like that.
'I don't think I've ever won a big trophy and it's all been pretty and nice even against sides where we've been massive favourites.'