England and Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard finally looks set to earn his 100th cap for the national team after being cleared to travel to Sweden following a scan on a knee injury picked up against Chelsea in the Premier League.
When Steven Gerrard steps out onto the pitch in the Swedbank Arena in Stockholm he will join an elite and prestigious group when he becomes only the sixth England player to win 100 caps, along side Billy Wright, Bobby Charlton, Bobby Moore, Peter Shilton and David Beckham. An honour Gerrard will be justifiably proud of.
Part of the once fabled 'Golden Generation'. A group of players with the weight of England on their shoulders who never quite managed to fulfil the nations expectations and constantly under-achieved on the biggest stages of world football. Steven Gerrard has never reached the same heights for England as he has for his club Liverpool, nevertheless Gerrard will still rank this achievement as highly as that night in Istanbul.
Steven Gerrard's senior England career began as a fresh faced 20-year-old when he was selected by Kevin Keegan to face Ukraine at Wembley on May 31st 2000 which his side went on to win 2-0. With an international career spanning over 12 years Gerrard has won plaudits from players, pundits and managers alike for his dedication to football and his willingness to give nothing less than 100% every time he steps out onto the pitch.
The one opportunity Gerrard will feel he has missed at international level came in 2004 when England travelled to Portugal for the European Championships, inspired by a young Wayne Rooney England could go toe to toe with any team in the competition but were unlucky to lose on Penalties to tournament hosts Portugal in the quarter-final.
Current England manager Roy Hodgson, who worked briefly with Gerrard at Liverpool regards it as an honour to be the manager to give the England captain his 1ooth cap, saying:
"Anybody who gets 100 caps for his country has got to be one hell of a player. During those 100 caps there will be times when he wakes up after a game to the headline 'Mr Fantastic' and there will be times when he wakes up to headlines 'You Let Us Down'.
"That's the nature of the business but during his captaincy at Euro 2012 and since he has been excellent on and off the field. He is an outstanding, mature thinking football man. I'm delighted I'm the manager when he gets that 100th cap.
"What makes him a good captain is his ability, which gives him enormous respect in the group. What gives him a heads-up over a lot of people is his maturity, his total dedication to football and the fact that he's prepared to give his time to other young players, to champion their cause and speak to them."
Gerrard's former Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier, the man who gave him the club captaincy in 2003 has no doubts about his qualities as a leader, saying:
"He is a winner and still has this urge to drive the team on. He leads by example, giving a lot of himself to the team.
"He likes responsibility. He likes it when people trust him and this enables him to be even better."
No one can say to Steven Gerrard at the end of his England career that he hasn't given 100%, although there have sometimes been doubters over the captains passion for the cause. But all he has to do is point to his name in the England record books and next to it will read: Steven Gerrard – 100 appearances. That alone should be enough to silence any of the doubters and critics of an outstanding player.