England Captain Gerrard Retires From International Soccer

England captain Steven Gerrard retired from international soccer a month after the team suffered its earliest exit from a World Cup in almost six decades.

“This has been a very difficult decision, one of the toughest I’ve had to make in my career,” Gerrard, 34, said in a statement on the Football Association website today. The Liverpool player, who scored 21 goals in 114 appearances for England and competed in six major tournaments, had been captain for the national team since the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Gerrard said he’d agonized over the decision since coming back from the Brazil World Cup, where England failed to get out of the group stage for the first time since 1958.

“To ensure I can keep playing to a high level and giving everything to Liverpool Football Club, I believe this is the right decision, and having Champions League football back at Anfield is another big factor in my decision,” he said.

Gerrard captained the England team 38 times and leaves with the third most appearances behind Peter Shilton with 125 and David Beckham with 115.

“While I’m disappointed in the decision, I can entirely understand Steven’s situation and can have no complaints given the incredible service he has given to his country,” England manager Roy Hodgson said.

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