STEVEN GERRARD today reflected on one of his most satisfying nights in an England shirt - after revealing he took inspiration for his heroics from Michael Shields.
Liverpool skipper Gerrard scored twice last night as England thrashed Croatia 5-1 at Wembley to book their place at next summer's World Cup finals in style.
Those headers took Gerrard's international tally to 16 in 76 appearances and he clearly took great contentment from the standing ovation he was given when substituted late on.
But the in-form midfielder admitted he was just as pleased by the news earlier in the day that Shields' horrific four-year ordeal had been ended with a royal pardon.
'It's fantastic news both for Michael and his family,' said Gerrard, who returned to Melwood today to start preparations for Saturday's clash with Burnley.
'I'm really pleased for all of them. It was a good day for me, scoring two goals and qualifying for the World Cup having switched on the television earlier in the day and seeing the news about Michael. It gave me a real boost.
'It's certainly one of the most satisfying nights I've had playing for England. We've had some good nights under Sven - particularly in Germany - and I've scored goals in the European Championships and the World Cup finals but this was very good.'
Victory preserved England's 100% record in Group Six and, not surprisingly, instantly fired belief that Fabio Capello could end up masterminding a route to victory in South Africa.
Should they carry on playing with the same kind of style and swagger which carried them past a competent Croatia side, they will have nothing to fear in the finals but Gerrard is not allowing himself to get sidetracked by such thoughts.