LIVERPOOL legend Terry McDermott believes Steven Gerrard’s form at Euro 2012 has confirmed his place as one of the world’s best midfielders.
And the former Anfield star has backed Gerrard to guide England past Italy and into the semi-finals this weekend.
Gerrard will skipper Roy Hodgson’s men in their crunch quarter-final showdown with the Azzurri in Kiev on Sunday, having been in imperious form as England topped their qualifying group.
The Reds captain has claimed assists in each of his country’s three games so far, and McDermott, who won 25 caps for England, believes the 32-year-old has been one of the stars of the tournament so far – though he admits he feels there is even more to come from him.
“He’s been absolutely phenomenal,” he said. “For ten years or more, he has been the catalyst for everything at Liverpool, and it is the same with England at the moment. He has been fantastic.
“We all know what a sensational player he is, and how influential he has been for club and country. His performances over the last couple of weeks have simply reiterated that.
“The scary thing is, I don’t think he has even hit top form yet! If he is playing his B-game at the moment, then how good will he be when he hits his A-game?
“He has had to be a little bit more defensive because of the way England play, with the 4-4-2 system and the rigid organisation, but he is popping up everywhere, in defence and attack. As captain, he leads by example, and you can’t ask for more than that. His work rate is unbelievable.”
McDermott believes a firing Gerrard can be the difference for Hodgson’s men against Italy this weekend, and admits he was baffled by the pre-tournament debate as to whether the Liverpool man was the right choice to captain his country.
“There should not have been a debate, end of,” he said. “He is everything you want in a footballer, and in a captain. He has shown that for ten years or more with Liverpool, and with England.
“Italy won’t be an easy game, nobody is saying it will be. But they are not unbeatable. And if Steven can continue the form he has shown in the first three games, and maybe even step it up another level, which I think he can do, then he could be the difference between success and failure.
“That’s how important he is to his country.”