This story has been reproduced from today's media. It does not necessarily represent the position of Liverpool Football Club.
WRITES: JAMIE CARRAGHER
Steven Gerrard has worn the England armband on numerous occasions, but he will head into Euro 2012 believing, for the first time, he has the authority of a captain.
I know how thrilled he was to receive the phone call from Roy Hodgson confirming he was the choice to lead his country. I also know how desperately disappointed he felt when the caretaker manager, Stuart Pearce, decided he would not be given the captaincy in the England friendly with Holland.
For us who know Stevie so well, it was a surprise such an experienced player with proven leadership qualities was overlooked. He carries himself with understated authority, preferring to lead by example rather than walk around like he is God's gift to the England shirt. He's never been big-headed or arrogant.
I've witnessed the different ways star players approach an England call-up. When you go away with your country, you're with players who all have the same reputation within their clubs and there are different ways to express yourself.
There are those who walk into the team hotel on their first day, broaden their shoulders and believe they belong there. They won't be shy of exerting their authority in training. I quite admire that kind of self-assurance because, psychologically, that's as effective a way as any of convincing yourself you deserve to be in such an esteemed environment. It may seem brash, but managers like that in a player.
Stevie has always had a different approach, confident within himself that he is exactly where he was always destined to be but feeling no obligation to broadcast it so openly. During the course of his England career, I think he has suffered because of this sense of humility, particularly in recent times over the issue of the captaincy. Despite his enormous talent, he has never behaved in a fashion to suggest he felt superior to anyone else in the squad.
I suspect Fabio Capello expected to see Gerrard strutting around like a superstar and demanding the armband as, perhaps, top Italian players might have done. Stevie would try to inspire those around him in other ways.
At Liverpool, it's a slightly different dynamic. Since he was a teenager, everyone has known he was destined to be our best player. He has carried an aura from the moment he made his debut. For more than 10 years at Anfield, every young player or new signing has looked to him for guidance. He has often brought this approach to England, exerting his authority in important but inconspicuous ways. When Wayne Rooney first broke into the England squad it was Gerrard who helped him most to settle in.
There was another occasion when Stoke's Ryan Shawcross was called up amid a media frenzy regarding a tackle on Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey. Again, it was Gerrard who made a point of ensuring the new boy was brought into the group and felt he belonged in the squad. Such incidents go unseen because others' perception of leadership is about shouting all the time, or being seen to clench your fist a lot.
I'll give you an example of the subtle difference between how it's been for Stevie playing for Liverpool and England. For his club, say we were 0-0 in an important cup tie, 10 minutes left on the clock and we've just won a penalty, this is what would happen. Without hesitation, Steven Gerrard would pick up the ball and calmly score to win us the game.
Now imagine the same situation for England in recent years. Frank Lampard would have picked up the ball. I'd be thinking to myself Stevie has as much right to be taking this penalty as Frank but he's allowing his own modesty to work against him. Frank, as he was entitled to do, would use the strength of his personality to make sure the penalty was his. Even without Lampard being injured Gerrard would now know he has the authority to back himself in such a situation. He will be more comfortable assuming the responsibilities he previously may not have felt he had.
Even at the last World Cup, although Stevie was captain throughout the tournament, behind the scenes you always felt Terry still felt like he was the real leader in the camp. There's justification for clear boundaries to be drawn now. Gerrard has the captaincy on merit and has no need to feel he is looking after the armband for someone else.
For his club, he has thrived on that kind of pressure. He is now approaching 100 caps for his country over the course of 12 years. That's some feat for any player. I suspect he'll want to carry on beyond Euro 2012, even though we have discussed how retiring from the international scene to concentrate on club football, as I did, can impact on your form. If the next four weeks go as planned, I don't see any reason why this tournament should be a swansong for Stevie's international career.