herald

Thursday 2 October 2014

Ibra' insists 'Pool isn't big enough for Gerrard

SWEDEN captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic has urged England counterpart Steven Gerrard to quit Liverpool and move to "a big international club".

Gerrard is poised to win his 100th cap in this evening's friendly international between the two countries to mark the opening of the Friends Arena in Stockholm.

Ibrahimovic is a big admirer of Gerrard (below) but feels he should leave Anfield after more than a decade of loyal service spanning over 600 games.

The Paris St Germain striker said: "Steven Gerrard is respected throughout Europe and is always the player the coach says to be careful with because he is the one that makes the difference.

"But, although of course Liverpool is a big club, I would like to see Steven at a big international club. I would like to see that also for England because it is very exciting when someone goes abroad and shows who he is in another competition.

"For me, a fantastic player can make the difference in every country wherever he plays. I'm pretty sure Steven would do that also."

Sweden coach Erik Hamren admits he has little knowledge of Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha after his surprise call-up into the England squad.

But he has cautioned against expecting too much too soon from the 20-year-old.

Hamren said: "I don't know about him. I will have some information.

"I have a scout so he can look but, for this game, I haven't been so focused on England because we have only had a couple of days to prepare.

"But I hope I will not have a bad surprise from this player (Zaha). Sometimes you (the media) get carried away. You have to need these heroes and stars and sometimes you make them a star too early.

"Then it is a problem for a player. It is better to make him a star when he is a star because we have seen some examples of that in world football.

"I hope he is not a star tomorrow but in the future, I hope you are right."

Meanwhile, Roy Hodgson insists he only wants players who are fully committed to playing for England after handing a first call-up to Ivory Coast-born winger Zaha.

Former Chelsea star Didier Drogba has been among those trying to persuade him to opt for the country of his birth.

But Hodgson feels there is "no choice to be made" for anyone who gets the call-up to represent the Three Lions. He said: "It is very simple. England, for me, is very important. To be asked to play for England is a major honour and a major feather in people's caps.

"I am not interested in people who are deciding whether England is where they want to be.

"When people are called up I expect them to come running, get on a bicycle and cycle to the training session if they have to, then shake hands with everyone and tell them how happy they are to be there."

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