Gerrard to take well-earned break ahead of finals

May 14, 2006

Steven Gerrard promised himself a 'good break' with his family after his FA Cup Final heroics before unleashing himself on to the World Cup stage.

Gerrard, Benitez
GettyImages / Stu ForsterLiverpool's Steven Gerrard and Rafa Benitez celebrate the 2006 FA Cup win.

The Liverpool captain scored the two goals that broke West Ham's hearts in Cardiff to take his own tally for the season to an astonishing 23.

That is the sort of form England now expect from Gerrard who has forced himself through a punishing 62 matches - including friendlies - since July 9, almost bringing him to his knees in extra-time.

The 25-year-old fought off cramp to score the 35-yard equaliser in the dying minutes of normal time before hauling himself forward to net in the successful penalty shoot-out, Liverpool's ninth success in such a climax in 10 attempts. It is now 13 years since they failed in a shoot-out.

Now Gerrard, with a week-old new daughter at home, will put his aching feet up.

He said: 'I'm going to have a bit of a break with the family, I'll probably have to sleep in the spare room for some peace and quiet, and then I will be ready for Germany.

'It's been a great goalscoring season for me, and now I aim to get some in the World Cup as well.'

He added: 'I was pleased with the goals, the first one sat up really nicely for me to volley but the second had a little bit of luck about it. But I caught it so sweet and it was on target.'

The drama unfolded just like 12 months ago in the European Cup final. Gerrard said: 'In terms of how you compare this to Istanbul, it's difficult. That was the ultimate, but winning trophies is what Liverpool are all about and it was a special day. But I can't really compare the FA Cup to Istanbul, it's not the same.

'We were struggling to find five people without cramp to take the penalties in the end, the manager asked me if I was okay and I said yes and could I take the first. But he said no, you've got the third. Thanks boss!

'In extra-time I didn't really want the ball because of the pain from cramp, I had nothing left.'

He added: 'We made hard work of it and West Ham played really well, it seems we have to do it the hard way.

'We learned a lot from the Milan game, no matter how many you are trailing by and how you are playing, the game is never over. It seems when we are behind it does not bother us, we keep going.

'I don't score two in a game very often. I recall the ball being knocked up to Peter (Crouch) and he headed it back perfectly.

'For the second, I recall hitting a free-kick just beforehand almost out of the stadium so to catch one as sweet as that was very special.

'I didn't hear the stadium announcer say what was left after the board had gone up, I was in so much pain at the time with cramp it didn't register.'

Gerrard, with eight winners' medals to his name, said: 'When there are only a couple of minutes left you are feeling the worst. But that is what drives us on. It was really hot out there, we were going down with cramp all over the place just like in Istanbul and it was a tough game.

'West Ham played on the counter-attack and it was a very difficult game. But I started to feel it was our day when Pepe (Jose Reina) made that save in extra time. How he got a hand to that to turn it on to the post I'll never know. It was one of the best saves I have seen and I would certainly compare it to Jerzy Dudek's in those last seconds in Istanbul from (Andriy) Schevchenko.

'And we knew that once it went to penalties, his record against spot kicks would really be an advantage. We see it every day in training when we practice penalties.

'He is so agile and gets down very quickly, it is difficult to score penalties against him.'