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But these Three Lions players can still reach a semi-final he claims...

Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard has admitted that thoughts of retiring from international football did cross his mind in the wake of England's awful showing in South Africa this summer.

The midfielder acknowledges that the nature of the Three Lions' exit from the tournament left him wondering if the "hassle" of international football was really worth it any longer.

"After what happened, calling it a day does cross your mind at times," he said, according to The Daily Mirror.

"I would be very surprised if the majority of the players weren't thinking along the same lines as me when they went home.

"I would be very surprised if they weren't hurting on that plane home, frustrated. I would be very surprised. Knowing the players I am sure they were.

"We're not as good as we thought we were. Well, we weren't.

"But very quickly you switch back to thinking of staying and hanging in and hopefully turning things round.

"I love playing for England, being down here and training. I've played for England for over 10 years now. I would love nothing more than to go out on a high rather than looking back at memories of South Africa and how we went out losing 4-1 to Germany.

"If we were to go to the semi-final of the Euros, would it be worth the hassle? It would for me because I would be able to tell my kids about it. That's the motivation for me. I think England should be getting to semi-finals with the players we have. I do."

Whether fans agree with Gerrard on that issue is something of a moot point currently, and the England skipper clearly feels that bad luck played a significant role in the Three Lions' poor showing.

 "The frustrating thing for me was how we went out," he added.

"Up to their third goal I was having the time of my life, captaining my country and loving it, really enjoying the training day-in and day-out, enjoying the games, the build-up and the expectation.

"Then for the game to just change and be done on two counter-attacks and lose 4-1 to your arch-rivals was difficult to take. That's what I can't get out of my head.

"I think it is a sign of our naivety. We need to sit down and go over that and think about it. We were 2-1 down but went gung-ho to try to chase the game and turn it round.

"That was a big mistake. We tried to turn it round instead of being patient when there was a lot of time left to get the equaliser.

"It was down to the players, not our instructions. The players have got to take responsibility. We went out there, we were in control of the situation. Even at 2-1 down I had confidence we could win the game 3-2 because we were bossing the game and at a good stage and had chances to score."

Gerrard is also insistent that manager Fabio Capello's tactics were not fundamentally to blame for the players' poor performance.

The Liverpool man was asked to play wide left by Capello for England, but does not feel that being asked to fill the role signifcantly compromised his effectiveness.

"I play where the manager asks me to play, to the best of my ability. I am playing out of position, obviously, because I am a centre midfielder and I am out on the left and coming in late.

"But I still feel that I am doing a good job for the team and I'm happy to do what Fabio Capello wants me to do.

"It's not just about putting the blame on Fabio. We've got to share it and put it right together, all the players, me included.

"For me, it would've been stupid to get rid of the manager and start again with a different guy. Who is there out there that is better than Capello?

"But we have to change a lot of things, both mentally and technically.

"There blatantly is a difference between the likes of Spain and us because they've gone and won the World Cup. They've proved they are a lot better than us as a team. They've proved that they're capable of handling that situation better than us.

"I don't know whether they're trained better. They're top players. They've got a massive confidence in their team, and they're the benchmark for not just England, but for a lot of nations out there. That's where we need to get.

"At the moment, after the World Cup, we're not up with the best. How many teams are above us? Well, we went out in the last 16. You do the maths."

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