Gerrard: England must rise to occasion

23 June 2012 05:19

Skipper Steven Gerrard has urged his England team-mates to "seize the moment" and end their quarter-final hoodoo when they take on Italy in Sunday's Euro 2012 clash in Kiev.

England have a history of slipping up at the last-eight stage of competitions - something which occurred three times during Sven-Goran Eriksson's reign as manager. But Gerrard is confident England can progress to their first semi-final since Euro 96, provided they do everything they can against the Azzurri.

The Liverpool midfielder said: "In previous tournaments we just haven't shown what we are capable of. But our performances are getting stronger in this competition. That is what gives me the belief and confidence that we can end this hoodoo that people talk about."

He added: "I get told that not many of the current players have figured in quarter-finals, but they are all big-game players and are aware of what is required. It is important they seize the moment, seize the opportunity, because from experience, I know they don`t come around very often.

"It is important nobody leaves anything out on the pitch and show the critics we are good enough to compete at this level."

Gerrard knows that England will have to contain Mario Balotelli if he is recalled to the starting line-up by the Italians.

The controversial Manchester City man scored off the bench against the Republic of Ireland on Monday, and is rarely far from the action.

Gerrard said: "We all know about Mario, we watch him week in and week out in the Premier League. He`s an excellent and dangerous player.

"He is someone we will have to take extra care of if he is chosen, and we will have to try and contain him."

Source: PA