Tag Archives: nerves

Laura Robson draws GB level in Argentina

Robson draws GB level in Argentina after Konta loses opener

By
Mark Staniforth, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

17:05 GMT, 20 April 2013

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UPDATED:

17:05 GMT, 20 April 2013

Laura Robson kept Great Britain's hopes of returning to the Fed Cup World Group alive with an emphatic victory over Florencia Molinero in Buenos Aires today.

The world number 38 brushed aside her inexperienced opponent 6-1 6-1 to pull Great Britain level at 1-1 against Argentina after Johanna Konta lost the opening rubber to Paula Ormaechea.

Robson will be strongly fancied to defeat Ormaechea in the reverse singles tomorrow, with Konta due to face Molinero and a potentially decisive doubles rubber also to come.

Roar: Laura Robson clenches her fist in delight during her win over Florencia Molinero

Roar: Laura Robson clenches her fist in delight during her win over Florencia Molinero

Coach well pleased: Judy Murray expresses her happiness over Robson's performance

Coach well pleased: Judy Murray expresses her happiness over Robson's performance

Robson had plenty of pressure on her shoulders heading into the tie at Parque Roca, with Great Britain banking on her to lead them back into World Group II after an absence of 20 years.

But the 19-year-old showed few signs of nerves as she raced through the first set and went 5-0 ahead in the second.

Despite being broken when she served for the match, she recovered to close it out on Molinero's serve in the next game and kept plenty in reserve.

Whipping it away: With Heather Watson out of the tie, Robson was under pressure to perform

Whipping it away: With Heather Watson out of the tie, Robson was under pressure to perform

Quick and easy: She completed a straight forward 6-1 6-1 win over her opponent from Argentina

Quick and easy: She completed a straight forward 6-1 6-1 win over her opponent from Argentina

Earlier world number 146 Konta had found the going tough against Ormachea and fell to a 6-3 6-2 defeat.

Konta, selected in the absence of Heather Watson due to illness, never recovered from a bad start as she fell 4-0 behind to a player ranked 21 places higher at 143 in the world.

Going behind: Johanna Konta had a harder day at the office losing to Paula Ormaechea

Going behind: Johanna Konta had a harder day at the office losing to Paula Ormaechea

Konta made a stronger start to the second set but was broken in the fourth game and when she was broken for a second time in her next service game, she was consigned to defeat.

After the two reverse singles, Robson will team up with veteran Anne Keothavong for the doubles, should they be required, against Maria Irigoyen and Mailen Auroux.

Team effort: Murray tries to impart some of her wisdom to get Konta back on track

Team effort: Murray tries to impart some of her wisdom to get Konta back on track

South Africa 2 Angola 0: Siyabonga Sangweni and Lehlohonolo Majoro on target for hosts

South Africa 2 Angola 0: Hosts off the mark as Sangweni and Majoro settle nerves

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

16:59 GMT, 23 January 2013

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UPDATED:

17:35 GMT, 23 January 2013

South Africa found their rhythm in the Africa Cup of Nations as they eased past Angola to the top of Group A.

After a goalless draw against Cape Verde on Saturday, the hosts burst into life in Durban.

Siyabonga Sangweni smashed home a volley after half an hour and Bafana Bafana were in cruise control when Lehlohonolo Majoro scored early in the second half.

Full report to follow….

Settling the nerves: Siyabonga Sangweni (2nd left) is congratulated after scoring for South Africa

Settling the nerves: Siyabonga Sangweni (2nd left) is congratulated after scoring for South Africa

Crowd pleaser: Sangweni celebrates with the fans in Durban after scoring for South Africa

Crowd pleaser: Sangweni celebrates with the fans in Durban after scoring for South Africa

He's behind you: Angola's Dany Massunguna is challenged by Siphiwe Tshabalala

He's behind you: Angola's Dany Massunguna is challenged by Siphiwe Tshabalala

Doubling up: South African Tokelo Rantie tries to hold off Angola pair Fabricio (left) and Dede

Doubling up: South African Tokelo Rantie tries to hold off Angola pair Fabricio (left) and Dede

Kevin Kilbane column: Media work brings different pressure and nerves to playing

Media work isn't as nerve-racking as making your debut as a player… but it's not far off

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UPDATED:

00:41 GMT, 15 December 2012

I played at Everton for three years and made more than 100 appearances for David Moyes.

I’ve lost count of the number of games I have watched at Goodison Park as a player, spectator and a pundit.

Last Sunday, just a day after finally announcing my retirement, I walked into the ground in my new job. And with that came an entirely different pressure, and plenty of nerves. Not as bad as making your debut as a player, but pretty close.

New pressure: Kevin Kilbane says life as a pundit will bring different stresses

New pressure: Kevin Kilbane says life as a pundit will bring different stresses

I’ve worked with BBC Five Live and Newstalk as co-commentator while still playing and always enjoyed it, it’s one of the reasons I’m happy with the choice of new career.

For the record I don’t see the career taking me to Limerick as manager just yet. I’ve always said I wouldn’t rule out a return to coaching but when I landed in Dublin yesterday to read about my pending appointment at Jackman Park, it was as much of a surprise to me as everyone else.

The club did make contact for the first time yesterday afternoon and I wouldn’t rule out talking to them in the future, if they are serious.

As a player, as soon as you put down the headphones and head home, you start worrying about the day job and training on Monday morning. That security was gone now.

I love watching football – I was at Preston North End v Crewe Alexandra on Saturday just to see my old club – and I’ve always analysed games the same way, and want to put that over in the commentaries.

Particularly at Hull last season I started to really study the opposition and analyse formations, teams and players, so I’ll use that as the basis of the information I’ll bring to the listeners.

I’ve always tried to be honest, but of course, while still a player yourself, at the back of your mind is the fact you might say something that might upset a former team-mate or fellow professional. I’m not going to go daft and say things for the sake of it but I’ll say it as I see it.

In attendance: Kilbane was at Goodison to see Everton score a late winner and beat Tottenham 2-1

In attendance: Kilbane was at Goodison to see Everton score a late winner and beat Tottenham 2-1

The reaction to last week’s announcement has really surprised me, and fans from all the clubs I’ve played for, and from Ireland, have said some very nice things.

There have been one or two less favourable ones and my personal favourite was a tweet from a Sunderland fan who said 'I thought he retired when he was playing for us.'

Yes. I’m on Twitter, and the first week has certainly been interesting.

I know a lot of players use it now but I was never really comfortable joining while I was still a professional footballer representing a football club.

While I will still be careful about what I say, and won’t be using it to provoke furious debate, I am freer now to express my views and enjoy it.

It’s really nice to interact with fans and answer their questions, send on any retweet requests, and pass on any little tips. Just don’t be fooled by this week’s success!

I can use it to raise the awareness of the Downs Syndrome Association and without Twitter I might not have found out about the campaign to save Preston Bus Station. It’s part of my childhood (is it right for a man to be proud of his town’s bus station). They can’t knock it down.

Whatever apprehensions I had about hanging up the boots disappeared the moment it was out. Finally I could answer questions about my future and look forward to that first game at Everton.

Good times: The Irish international retired from football last week

Good times: The Irish international retired from football last week

And since then the phone hasn’t stopped. It’s been incredible really, and of course I know it will calm down, but the offers of work have naturally been very welcome.

I was asked to stand in at the last minute for Question of Sport. And bumped into Robbie Savage as he left following the first recording. 'They let any old riff-raff in here.' Yes, Robbie Savage.

Played on Phil Tufnell’s team and met Irish champion jockey Richard Hughes, which was a real honour. I had to put our snap on Twitter.

If there’s one commitment I am nervous about, it’s my first appearance on The Late Late Show. It’s an Irish institution. And just to put my mind at rest the fellow guests are Dohmnall Gleeson, The Dubliners, Catherine Jenkins and Billy Connolly.

I do keep asking myself what I’m doing there.

Coleman's coming through

Everton reserves manager Alan Stubbs first brought Seamus Coleman to my attention.

He’d just signed from Sligo Rovers and Stubbsy mentioned him because he liked the look of him straight away and he looked like he was going to become a good footballer.

So I kept an eye on him and I know he was an integral part of the Blackpool team which gained promotion.

They wanted to sign him permanently but David Moyes recognised that loan spell was an important part of his progression and he had plans for him at Everton.

In his first season he mainly played in midfield but for the last two has been competing with Tony Hibbert for the right-back slot.

Tony is a very good defender, and not much gets past him, but doesn’t give as much as Seamus going forward.

Impressed: Kilbane rates Seamus Coleman and is pleased with his progress

Impressed: Kilbane rates Seamus Coleman and is pleased with his progress

Tony’s injury has given Seamus his chance, which he has really grasped. He was excellent against Tottenham last week and you can see his defensive game is improving. He has made mistakes but the good thing is, you can see he is learning from them.

I really believe that Seamus’s long overdue regular place in the Republic of Ireland team is behind his form this season.

It should have happened two years ago but now he is established in the squad, he has grown in confidence.

He could have gone the other way after missing out on the Euro finals, and I know that must have hurt him. How many players get the hump and don’t make themselves available You have to earn the right to play for your country.

Seamus has been on the peripherary but always made himself available, turned up when selected, not moaned when he hasn’t played. He just wants to play for Ireland.

He’s turned up, worked hard, played well for his club and got his call-ups. His performances can only be good news for Ireland, Everton and Seamus.

My part in Arsenal’s downfall

I got a text message from my former Hull team-mate Matt Duke on Tuesday, wishing me all the best for retirement.

I asked what he was up to and he texted: 'All good, got a game against Arsenal tonight.’

Clearly it inspired Matt to his heroics in the penalty shoot-out Capital One Cup win over The Gunners.

Matt, who’s now coaching at Bradford too, has fought back from testicular cancer, and his harsh release from Hull in the summer of 2011.

And I can’t think of many lads who deserve a night to cherish for the rest of his life as much as Dukes.

Kevin Kilbane is a columnist for The Irish Daily Mail

Bradford City invite Diana Ross to practise penalties

EXCLUSIVE: We're the shootout Supremes! Bradford cheekily invite '94 World Cup penalty flop Diana Ross to hone her spot-kick skills

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UPDATED:

17:05 GMT, 13 December 2012

With an incredible nine penalty shootout wins in a row, Bradford City are the undisputed spot-kick kings – and now they want to share their secret with the world.

After they again showed nerves of steel to knock Arsenal out of the Capital One Cup on Tuesday night, the club cheekily wrote a letter to the taker of officially the worst penalty of all time offering their assistance.

Many of you will recall the cringe-worthy moment when pop star Diana Ross somehow missed from about five yards in the opening ceremony for the 1994 World Cup finals in Chicago.

Spot-kick Kings! Bradford City won their ninth consecutive penalty shootout as they dumped Arsenal out of the Capital One Cup on Tuesday

Spot-kick Kings! Bradford City won their ninth consecutive penalty shootout as they dumped Arsenal out of the Capital One Cup on Tuesday

Enlarge

Cheeky: Bradford's invite to Diana Ross, through her agent, to come over to Valley Parade and practice her penalties

Cheeky: Bradford's invite to Diana Ross, through her agent, to come over to Valley Parade and practice her penalties

What made it so ridiculed was that the goal then collapsed in on itself as though her spot-kick had smashed it while the ball trickled hopelessly wide of the mark.

But with Bradford so 'Supreme' from twelve yards, they've kindly offered the music legend some advice.

In a letter addressed to Ross's agent, the club explain that a 'major upheaval' happened in English football this week as Arsenal were dumped out.

Special guest: Could we see Diana Ross at Valley Parade (below) practising her penalties in the New Year

Special guest: Could we see Diana Ross at Valley Parade (below) practising her penalties in the New Year

Valley Parade, the home of Bradford City

It goes on to claim that the shootout win, Bradford's ninth in a row, is an unofficial World Record.

It then gently reminds Ross of her embarrassment before the World Cup kicked off 18 years ago, saying: 'Sadly at that event Diana bowed to the pressure and missed with her kick.'

The letter, on Bradford City headed notepaper, continues: 'We would like to improve Diana's record by sharing some of the squad's techniques and hopefully help Diana learn how to take penalty kicks with the proper skill set.'

Embarrassing: Diana Ross missed from about ten yards out during the opening ceremony of the 1994 World Cup in Chicago

Embarrassing: Diana Ross missed from about ten yards out during the opening ceremony of the 1994 World Cup in Chicago

An invitation is then made by City and tournament sponsors Capital One to have Ross over for a match in the New Year – perhaps the home leg of the semi-final.

While the chances of actually seeing Ross lining up a spot-kick at Valley Parade remain slim it is worth remembering what she taught us – 'There ain't no mountain high enough…'

Video: Diana Ross misses from close range in the 1994 World Cup opening ceremony

Shaun Murphy beats Luca Brecel in UK Championship quarter-finals

Young Brecel's not so pretty on the pink as Murphy ends Belgian's fairytale run

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UPDATED:

01:08 GMT, 7 December 2012

Shaun Murphy dodged a Belgian bullet as Luca Brecel ran into pink peril and bowed out in the quarter-finals of the williamhill.com UK Championship.

Seventeen-year-old Brecel was twice on the brink of a famous victory at just his second major tournament.

But the rising star missed crucial pinks in the 10th and 11th frames to allow Murphy to capitalise both times.

Eye on the ball: Shaun Murphy had to dig deep to get the better of Luca Brecel

Eye on the ball: Shaun Murphy had to dig deep to get the better of Luca Brecel

The second steal clinched a 6-5 victory for the 2008 UK champion, setting up a semi-final tomorrow against Stuart Bingham's conqueror Ali Carter.

Murphy pointed to strong words at the interval from his manager Brandon Parker as a key factor in his victory.

'Brandon gave me a good talking-to at the interval that would have rivalled one of Sir Alex Ferguson's half-time talks, and it really knocked me into shape,' Murphy said.

'It's lucky there were no hairdryers in that dressing room. I think I'd have got one. Without Brandon's words I would have lost the match.'

He would have gone out anyway if Brecel had been able to put away his chances.

'I thought I'd lost the match a couple of times, I really did think I was out,' Murphy said. 'I think the adrenaline and maybe a little bit of inexperience cost him in the end. He over-hit and under-hit a couple of shots, and I'm just relieved.

Nerves of steel: 17-year-old Brecel has been the talk of the UK Championship

Nerves of steel: 17-year-old Brecel has been the talk of the UK Championship

'The sense of relief and sense of pleasure is probably twice as much as if I'd won 6-0 with four maximum breaks.'

Murphy can see a future champion emerging, and pointed to shades of Stephen Hendry in Brecel's temperament.

'He's just not bothered. And as long as he can keep that, that's what the best champions in the game forever have all had in common,' Murphy said.

'When everyone else is under pressure and feeling it, they just waltz through it like it's a walk in the park. Hendry never used to show any nerves at all and Luca looks like he's got the same attributes.

'He doesn't seem to show any nerves, he doesn't seem to feel any pressure just until the last minute, and it was lucky for me he did.'

Elsewhere at the Barbican, Mark Davis joined the semi-final line-up as the most successful season of his 21 years as a snooker professional reached a new high.

The 40-year-old Hastings man reached his third ranking event semi-final of the campaign with a 6-4 victory over the 2003 UK champion Matthew Stevens.

Into the last four: Davis

Into the last four: Davis

Davis had never made it so far in one of snooker's majors before this term, but he began his run of success at the Wuxi Classic in June, followed it up with another semi-final showing at the Australian Open in July and now has a final in his sights in York.

He fired breaks of 101, 80 and 70 in seeing off Welshman Stevens, earning himself a shot at Mark Selby, who fought back from 4-0 down to beat Neil Robertson 6-4.

The key frame was the 49-minute ninth, which after an intense battle Selby took, and when Robertson left him a cheap opening red early in the next frame the Leicester man made a match-winning 101 break.

Selby punched the air in celebration after potting the red that made victory safe, tying up victory at 12.05am.

Selby, 29, will go back to No 1 in the world should he beat Davis to reach the final, having relinquished top spot to Judd Trump in November.

Selby said: 'It's a special win. The way I finished off was pleasing but at the start of the match I was terrible, pathetic, and I deserved to be 4-0 down.

'Until 4-3 I didn't really start playing the way I'm capable of playing. I finished off well and it's surprising to come out on top.'

Martin Kaymer wins Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City

Former world No 1 Kaymer shines in Sun City to secure first title of the year

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UPDATED:

16:17 GMT, 2 December 2012

Martin Kaymer survived a late wobble to hold on for his first title of the year with victory at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City.

The overnight leader bogeyed the 15th hole to see his advantage at the top of the leaderboard cut to one stroke by South Africa's Charl Schwartzel but held his nerve the rest of the way to prevail by two strokes.

Kaymer finished on eight under par overall, with Schwartzel at six under and American Bill Haas alone in third, three strokes further back.

Long wait: Kaymer won his first title of the year in Sun City

Long wait: Kaymer won his first title of the year in Sun City

Long wait: Kaymer won his first title of the year in Sun City

South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen began the final round just one stroke behind Kaymer, but a 74 saw his challenge run out of steam and he ended in fourth place on two under, one stroke ahead of defending two-time champion Lee Westwood of England, who carded a 73.

Scotland's Paul Lawrie, the leader after the second round, went over par for the second day running as he managed 74 to finish in sixth place overall.

Kaymer famously sank the putt that ensured Europe retained the Ryder Cup earlier this year, but on a personal level this season has been a disappointment for the German.

And he admitted that as the opportunity to finally break his year-long victory drought edged closer, nerves began to tell.

Clinging on: Kaymer bogeyed the 15th hole

Clinging on: Kaymer bogeyed the 15th hole

Clinging on: Kaymer bogeyed the 15th hole

'It was always tight,' Kaymer told reporters.

'Charl played a great round of golf and I was telling (my caddie) that I need a win. I need a win in 2012.'

Rainy conditions on the final day at Gary Player Country Club were in keeping with the previous three, meaning yet again that scores were kept in check by the weather.

No-one shot better than 69 all week, and that mark was again achieved by Kaymer on Sunday having also managed a three-under total over the second round.

The German began in positive fashion on Sunday, hitting a brilliant eagle on the second only to see his hard work erased with a double-bogey at three.

Birdies at nine, 10 and 11 took him clear of the pack again, although Schwartzel's birdie on the 14th trimmed the lead to one.

Swinging in the rain: Schwartzel made a late bid for the title

Swinging in the rain: Schwartzel made a late bid for the title

Swinging in the rain: Schwartzel made a late bid for the title

Kaymer hacked his way out of the rough to make an unlikely birdie on 14 and take his lead back out to two, but a bogey at the next meant the pressure stayed on.

Schwartzel's victory bid finally stuttered as he committed his first bogey of the day at the 17th, as Kaymer made par the rest of the way to close out an overdue victory.

'I'm very happy to finally win this year, that was the most important thing for me, because I was practising very hard,' Kaymer added.

'I played very well the last few weeks and months, but it just did not happen for me on the golf course.

'I said to Craig, my caddy, we have to win one tournament every year and this is our last chance. Fortunately we could bring it home.'

Tiger Woods hopes long putters are banned

Long putters should be banned, says Woods as golf awaits outcome of ruling bodies

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UPDATED:

10:20 GMT, 28 November 2012

Tiger Woods was hoping to hear on Wednesday that the way long putters are anchored to the body is going to be outlawed.

An announcement is expected at a teleconference being held by the Royal and Ancient Club and United States Golf Association, golf's two ruling bodies.

It is widely thought that from 2016 there will be no fixing of putters to a pivot point, whether it is the belly, chin or chest.

Keegan Bradley

Webb Simpson

Putt: Bradley and Simpson are among the last five major winners

Three of the sport's last five major winners – Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and Ernie Els – have used long putters in such a way.

Woods, in California this week for his final event of 2012, said: 'I was just asked my own opinion and that was it.

'I don't know if it carried any weight or not, but I just believe that the art of putting is swinging the club and controlling nerves.

'Having it as a fixed point, as I was saying all year, is something that's not in the traditions of the game.

No tradition: Woods wants long putters outlawed from the game

No tradition: Woods wants long putters outlawed from the game

Phil Duncan F1 blog

'We swing all 13 other clubs. I think the putter should be the same. It should be a swinging motion throughout the entire bag.

'I don't know if there's any statistical data on it, but I'm sure there is somewhere about whether or not anchoring the putter does help on a certain range of putts, especially the guys who have gotten the twitches a little bit.

'One of the things that I was concerned about going forward is the kids who get started in the game and starting to putt with an anchoring system.

'There have been some guys who have had success out here and obviously everyone always copies what we do. That's something that I think for the greater good of the game needs to be adjusted.'

Woods, the defending champion in the World Challenge at Sherwood Country Club, also said he was ruling out European Tour membership next season.

The possibility was there for him to meet the criteria after it was decided to include the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup in the 13-event minimum, but

Woods stated: 'I certainly understand the ruling and that's nice, but no.

'It's a bit much for me still. Certainly I've had opportunities over the years – I was very close a couple of times and could have taken membership up and played it.

'I enjoy playing around the world and I still always will, but I am going to play this (PGA) Tour.'

If there had been no minimum requirement Woods would have been the European circuit's leading money-winner six times between 1999 and 2007, but he added: 'It wasn't important to me.

'It just wasn't important to me. My main concern was winning major championships – I've won 14 of them and I'm very proud of that.'

England may need penalty shrink – Roy Hodgson

Hodgson admits England may need penalty shrink to cure spot kick nerves

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UPDATED:

22:52 GMT, 19 November 2012

Roy Hodgson is considering bringing in a psychologist to help England’s footballers take penalties.

The England manager has decided to take a deeper look into the issue after witnessing the country’s latest shootout agony against Italy at Euro 2012.

Steven Gerrard admitted last week he found it ‘a million times’ harder taking a penalty in competition for England than for Liverpool because of the nerves.

Gutted: Steven Gerrard admits taking penalties for England is tough

Gutted: Steven Gerrard admits taking penalties for England is tough

‘We are reviewing if there are more things we can do,’ said Hodgson. ‘I have not closed any doors. Every day you get ideas from psychologists, people who believe it is all in the mind.

‘So we do not dismiss anything. The bottom line is you need confident players. You need players who have that cold streak like many golfers or tennis players.’

Ashley Cole and Ashley Young fluffed their penalties against Italy while Andrea Pirlo remained cool enough to dink the ball over Joe Hart.

‘I worked with Pirlo for six months when I went back to Inter Milan,’ Hodgson said. ‘He hardly ever speaks really, (but) has that incredible confidence in himself, that cold streak. He even had the confidence in a match of that importance to chip the ball.

Peerless: Andrea Pirlo chipped the ball in for Italy against England

Peerless: Andrea Pirlo chipped the ball in for Italy against England

‘I don’t know what gives people that mental toughness, that incredible confidence.’

England’s defeats on penalties came in the World Cups of 1990, 1998 and 2006 and in the European Championships of 1996, 2004 and 2012.

Hodgson added: ‘What worries me is the more we talk about it, and the more we concern ourselves, we pile even more pressure on our players.

‘How do I manage to erase all that negativity from the last three or four penalty shootouts before we go into the next one’

Steven Gerrard ahead of 100th England cap: Don"t call me a hero

Steven Gerrard: Don't call me a hero… there are only 11 of those and they won England the World Cup

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 13 November 2012

This story starts behind the wheel of a Honda. An awkward teenager turns his father's car south, towards the Home Counties, jangling with nerves as he embarks upon an England career.

There was no map but it led here, to the Friends Arena in Sweden, where Steven Gerrard will become only the sixth Englishman to acquire 100 caps in more than 140 years of international football on Wednesday night.

Anxieties have eased since that first call from Kevin Keegan and Gerrard is today relaxed, despite a slight knee problem, and comfortable with his own opinions as he settles into a large, cream armchair to reflect on the journey.

All smiles: Gerrard appeared in relaxed mood with manager Roy Hodgson at England's pre-match press conference on Tuesday

All smiles: Gerrard appeared in relaxed mood with manager Roy Hodgson at England's pre-match press conference on Tuesday

The Honda has gone but the miles keep ticking by. He understands England these days and England understands him. England matters to the 32-year-old Scouser, just as Liverpool does. It always has, he insists.

When it goes wrong – and, boy, it has gone wrong at times – he feels the pain, furrows the brow and shoulders the responsibility. Asked to rate his international career out of 10, he gives himself a six, then upgrades to a seven, but this is an occasion to savour. There is even a smile.

'It's something I never thought I'd achieve,' said Gerrard. 'Growing up, getting turned down at the FA's national school at 14, not getting picked for England U15s. There were times when I thought I'd never even get one cap.

Mark of distinction: Gerrard celebrates his first goal - against Germany in 2001 - and trains on Tuesday in boots marking cap No 100 (below)

Mark of distinction: Gerrard celebrates his first goal – against Germany in 2001 – and trains on Tuesday in boots marking cap No 100 (below)

Mark of distinction: Gerrard celebrates his first goal - against Germany in 2001 - and trains on Tuesday in boots marking cap No 100 (below)
Gerrard: What they say about the England captain on the eve of his 100th appearance

Roy Hodgson

He is always prepared to give the youngsters the benefit of his experience and can come to them with a wise word. He has done a fantastic job in my time as manager.
Roy Hodgson

I'd say that Steven Gerrard has had the biggest influence on the England team in the last 10 years. He would get in any team that Liverpool have had.
Graeme Souness

He has something extra. I really like him as a player. When he's not injured he's a top player because of his skills to read the game and find the passes.
Erik Hamren (Sweden manager)

Stuart Pearce

Getting to 100 caps is the ultimate achievement. As a footballer, he has been one of the most outstanding in the last couple of generations. He is a fantastic role model.
Stuart Pearce

Big heart, always fighting; for me, Steven Gerrard has more skills than a normal player.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic

'To be here on the eve of 100 is an unbelievable achievement for me and my family. When I speak about it the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

'There have been great players before me and ones I've played with who haven't got to that milestone. It's very flattering.'

England's 5-1 win against Germany in Munich in 2001 quickly springs out as his finest memory, but even this leaves an aftertaste.

'I'd probably say that's the strongest England team I've played in,' said Gerrard. 'It had great balance between young and experienced players. We had some world-class players.

'I know the “Golden Generation” gets spoken about, which is something I don't really like, but when you look at that team from front to back it was really strong.

'That group of players under-achieved at big tournaments. That team should certainly have got to a semi-final.

'We were unlucky at times in the penalty shootouts but that's certainly a regret. That group of players should've done better.'

The weight of expectation stifled players, according to Fabio Capello, and Gerrard accepts this.

'It's everything,' he said. 'It's the fans, it's the media, it's because we've got the best league, it's because every other country is so desperate to beat us.

Head boy: Gerrard is set to make his 100th England appearance against Sweden on Wednesday night

Head boy: Gerrard is set to make his 100th England appearance against Sweden on Wednesday night

'There have been times when I've found the shirt to be a bit of a weight. We get criticism and you have to take it, get on with it, just try and play through it.

'It's one of the reasons why certain teams in my generation have under-achieved. You have a bad game or a nightmare and you know the coverage is worldwide. There are a lot more eyes, a lot more cameras, a lot more opinions, a lot more TV channels covering the game – Sky, ESPN, Al Jazeera – there's social media. It's even bigger than when I came in. It's a lot more difficult for the young lads.

'Everyone watches England. When I speak to the foreign lads in my dressing room, the first result they look for is England. As soon as they come off the pitch they think, “How did England get on” Everyone wants a piece of England, everyone's interested in England. That's what we have to get on with. Playing for England's a tough gig.'

Then there are the penalties. Of Gerrard's five major tournaments – he missed the World Cup in 2002 with an injury – three have ended in defeat in a quarter-final shoot-out.

Leg-up: The England captain admits the Three Lions shirt has been 'a bit of a weight'

Leg-up: The England captain admits the Three Lions shirt has been 'a bit of a weight'

He had been substituted in Euro 2004 when England were beaten by Portugal but missed from the spot two years later in the World Cup in Gelsenkirchen, against the same opposition. This year, he scored his penalty against Italy in Kiev and dared to believe the curse was about to end. He was mistaken.

'Penalties were probably our best chance,' said England's captain. 'We were tired and Italy were on top in the latter stages. I thought, “Penalties, yeah, maybe it's our turn”. I felt confident. I saw our penalty- takers and I thought, “This is it, last four”.

'I felt a responsibility. I wanted to take the first penalty. I thought if I scored that the lads coming up after would be less nervous. I'd missed one before and I thought to get up and score that first penalty would give the lads belief.

'Taking a penalty for England in a tournament is a million times more difficult than a normal penalty. The nerves and how your body feels, there's a lot more pressure.

Starting out: Former England boss Kevin Keegan presents Gerrard with his first cap in 2000

Starting out: Former England boss Kevin Keegan presents Gerrard with his first cap in 2000

'It's three times for me and I don't think any other international player would have experienced that. My initial thought was, “Not again”.

Briefly, he considered retiring from England after Euro 2012 but agreed to lead the World Cup qualifying campaign.

'It wasn't a close call but when you're that age and you have another setback, it crosses your mind,' said Gerrard.

'But being captain and the buzz I get for England outweighs the thought of knocking it on the head.

'Having players like Jack Wilshere coming through, it's worth hanging about and carrying on and seeing if things change and a bit of luck comes our way.

Jack's back: Gerrard believes Wilshere is a 'fantastic talent'

Jack's back: Gerrard believes Wilshere is a 'fantastic talent'

'He's a fantastic talent and if we can produce more players on Jack's level maybe we've got a chance of going far in a tournament. That's the way I look at it.'

In Stockholm, he could play with Wilshere for the first time and also witness the international debuts of wingers Raheem Sterling (17) and Wilfried Zaha (20). Sterling he knows from Liverpool but the England captain sought out Zaha on Monday morning, aware of the nerves he himself experienced when he was first called up at a similar age.

In his book, Gerrard told how he was afraid to enter the dining room alone, dumbstruck in the presence of Alan Shearer and Tony Adams, the victim of a room-trashing (for which he blames Robbie Fowler and Steve McManaman, although they never confessed) and homesick during Euro 2000.

'I still struggle to this day with being away for four to six weeks,' he said. 'I'm a family man, more comfortable with people around me who I've grown up with. I'm not really a fan of being in hotels and away in different countries but it's worth going through to get the buzz of winning in an England shirt.'

Heartbreak: The Liverpool captain missed his penalty in England's 2006 World Cup exit to Portugal

Heartbreak: The Liverpool captain missed his penalty in England's 2006 World Cup exit to Portugal

When it comes to advice for the newcomers, he reverts to something his father said when he was eight years old and about to join Liverpool's academy. 'Basically, you get out of football what you put in,' said Gerrard.

'If you work hard and make the sacrifices and you're willing to learn and you have the talent, you'll have a good career. That's the advice I have always tried to stick to.

'Some of them won't be able to. That's fact. Not everyone who plays at this level will go on to be a top international player. That's just the way it is. Some will find it too hard, some won't be good enough. Some won't work hard enough for it.'

For Gerrard, desire was never an issue. It still isn't. He has not yet given up hope of success with England and could threaten Peter Shilton's record of 125 caps.

'It would be nice to get 120 but it's not my priority,' said Gerrard. 'My interest is in qualifying for the next tournament.'

He doesn't even wince at the idea of managing England, saying: 'Yeah, of course,' when asked if he would fancy the job.

'I'm going to go into my coaching badges. We'll see where it goes. I'll only be a coach or a manager if I feel I'm good enough. I don't think you go down that road because you've been a decent player. That's a mistake a lot of footballers have made.

'You get your badges first, you try it and you're comfortable and you have belief in your own knowledge of the game but it doesn't automatically mean that you will be able to manage.'

All this lies firmly in the future. In Sweden tonight, he can stand tall alongside England's centurions, his name etched in history, despite his self-deprecating view that the only footballers worthy of hero status in this country are the World Cup winners of 1966. It is typical Gerrard, a little harsh on himself.

'In football, the hero and legend status is given out far too easily,' he said. 'As far as playing for England goes there are 11 heroes, the rest haven't really delivered.'

But he has delivered as a role model, an ambassador and one of the finest midfield swashbucklers the game has seen. He has delivered as an all-action hero in a Honda.

How it all began for Gerrard and England with some fowl play…

Given a first call-up by Kevin Keegan, Gerrard celebrated his 20th birthday before England v Ukraine at Wembley and was given a cake after training. Later, he found his bath full of water, his clothes dumped in, and 'Happy Birthday' on his mirror. The finger of blame has been pointed at Liverpool team-mate Robbie Fowler.

'It was so long ago, I couldn't tell you if it was me,' said Fowler, tongue firmly in cheek. 'He was shy and had a silly fringe but he was one of us, so myself and Steve McManaman looked after him.

'Whoever did it did him a favour because he was a terrible dresser. And whoever wrote on his mirror had to use toothpaste because he never had shaving foam, as he didn't start shaving until he was 29!'

Bo van Pelt wins Perth International

Van Pelt holds nerve to edge out Dufner and clinch maiden European Tour title in Perth

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UPDATED:

10:35 GMT, 21 October 2012

Bo van Pelt clinched his first victory on the European Tour with a two-shot triumph in the ISPS HANDA Perth International.

American Van Pelt came into the final day with a one-stroke lead after holing a 60-foot birdie putt on the 18th on Saturday and picked up a shot on the first on Sunday to set the tone for his round.

He finished on 16 under overall after carding a 68 to beat compatriot Jason Dufner by two shots, with first-round leader Alejandro Canizares three strokes further back in third.

Pretty in pink: Bo van Pelt celebrates winning the Perth International

Pretty in pink: Bo van Pelt celebrates winning the Perth International

'Jason and I had a great battle and played well. It definitely got tight there at the end but luckily for me I came out on top,' Van Pelt told the European Tour website.

'Lake Karrinyup was a great test of golf all week. It's been a battle; the wind blew, the greens were firm and fast, and it was just a joy to play all week.

'Whenever you get a lead you want to take advantage of it so it was nice to finish one off this week.'

Holding his nerve: Van Pelt beat his countryman Jason Dufner to the title

Holding his nerve: Van Pelt beat his countryman Jason Dufner to the title

Van Pelt demonstrated nerves of steel around the green and rolled in from 15 feet at the seventh to turn in 32, before picking up his fourth and fifth birdies of the day immediately afterwards.

He two-putted at the 15th to give Dufner hopes of catching up but Van Pelt birdied the next and another dropped shot at the 17th proved inconsequential after Dufner had bogeyed the 16th.

Paul Casey finished in a tie for fifth – alongside fellow Englishman David Howell, Scotland's Scott Jamieson and Rhys Davies of Wales – after a marvellous final round of 67.

Frustrated: Dufner finished two shots behind Van Pelt after their respective final rounds

Frustrated: Dufner finished two shots behind Van Pelt after their respective final rounds

The 35-year-old Casey has struggled for form this season after suffering a dislocated shoulder in a snowboarding accident last Christmas but is showing signs of getting back to his best and finished on eight under overall – one stroke behind fourth-placed Michael Hendry.