Steven Gerrard set to stand down as England captain
The Liverpool midfielder will make the 2014 World Cup his swan song along with Klose and Pirlo
July 17th, 2014
The World Cup produced many a shock result for the 32 teams involved; with some teams riding a wave of momentum into the latter stages of the tournament and others cursing their failure to get off the start line.
Three players in particular will look back on the 2014 World Cup with a mixture of emotions as it will probably prove to have been their last on the biggest international stage.
The one player on this list who will be completely content with the culmination of his World Cup career, Klose has both a winner’s medal and the most tournament goals of all time; his 16th going in during the 7-1 rout of Brazil and beating their very own previous holder Ronaldo. There’s a neat symmetry to Klose’s record-breaking run as he scored his first three World Cup goals in a similar trouncing – 8-0 against Saudi Arabia in 2002.
As the only recognised striker in the World Cup squad, replacing a talent of Klose’s calibre will be a tall order – but with Mario Gómez missing most of last season through injury and only seven appearances between the other three recently-capped players it may be too late to develop a replacement in the near future.
2007 World Cup winner Pirlo showed his flair and experience in Group D – completing more than 100 passes and only missing five in the game against England. Italy’s early exit from the competition has set social media on fire, speculating about the future of a side which may have relied too heavily upon Pirlo’s 35-year old legs during the tournament, but The Architect has since been said to be reconsidering his planned international retirement.
A young player in a similar mould is Paris Saint-Germain’s Marco Verratti; like Pirlo he has recently made the move relatively early in his career to focus less on a pacy attacking midfield effort to a more deep-lying position from where he can try more of a playmaking role. The two played together at this World Cup and Italian hopes are high for the youngster.
The England engine room has lost two of its most prolific club players, as both Gerrard and free agent Frank Lampard are unlikely to ever play for their country in a World Cup again. Injury kept Gerrard from his first opportunity in Japan and South Korea but he contributed to the national squad’s best campaign in a decade in 2006, reaching the quarter-finals before losing to Portugal on penalties.
It is an extremely difficult ask to replace such an impassioned England player as Gerrard, but an early answer could come in the form of Merseyside rival Ross Barkley, who also appeared at the recent World Cup and has already received strong praise from managers and pundits alike.