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American dream for England as Gerrard hails character of captain.

Byline: BY SIMON STONE

England 2

USA 0

STEVEN GERRARD hailed the "fantastic character" of John Terry as he bounced back from his Champions League misery to help England to victory against the United States at Wembley.

Terry had been in the depths of despair a week ago after missing the spot-kick for Chelsea which would have given them victory over Manchester United in the final in Moscow.

Terry had already received a 'pick-me-up' by reclaiming the captaincy after an eight-month absence and he followed it up by scoring the opening goal in England's 2-0 success.

LIverpool captain Gerrard, who converted the second goal to cap his man-of-the match performance, said: "I am so pleased for John Terry. He is a top guy off the pitch and also a great player on it. He is a fantastic footballer.

"Unfortunately for him, he suffered a big low in his career with what happened in Moscow last week.

"But we always knew he was going to bounce back.

That is the type of fantastic character that he is.

"He showed once again tonight that he is a fantastic leader. He has done it so many times."

Gerrard believes England are starting to make progress under Fabio Capello but is aware there is still much work to be done before they are at the level they want to be.

He added: "This was another step in the right direction. We are pleased with the win and we have a clean sheet. We are getting a bit more used to the new set-up.

"We are certainly on the right path but there is still a long way to go to get to the level we want to perform at."

Gerrard insists England have to forget the disappointment of failing to qualify for Euro 2008 and concentrate on mounting a strong World Cup qualifying campaign.

He said: "Not going to the Euro finals has been hitting home for a long time, ever since we failed to qualify.

"We are going to have to suffer that disappointment throughout the summer. We all wanted to be part of the finals and challenging to win the tournament.

"But we've got to prepare for the World Cup qualifiers.

We have to put the disappointment we are feeling about this summer to the back of our minds."

In confirming seven of the nine players who appeared in the Champions League final will not be required to make the trip to Trinidad for Sunday's next friendly, Capello declared himself "happy" with what was probably England's best performance of his three matches in charge so far.

Capello also had words of praise for Wayne Rooney, even though a couple of the Manchester United man's tackles might have landed him in trouble had the environment been more competitive.

"Wayne Rooney did not score goals but he did well for the team," said Capello. "That is very important. I spoke with him after the game and he was very happy."

Meanwhile, USA coach Bob Bradley chose his words carefully and wisely as he assessed Rooney's performance, particularly when it came to his tackling.

"Wayne Rooney stays on the field in most games, we will leave it at that," he said. "The fact is he is a leader. He fights for every ball and he is a winner. In that way, he earns his respect.

"As a general rule, players like Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard are good examples of what we are shooting for.

"We have some players in Europe but not seven who started in the Champions League final.

"We are hoping for more players to move up the ladder and play for better clubs."

LIVERPOOL left-back John Arne Riise scored Norway's late equaliser in their 2-2 draw with Uruguay last night.

CAPTION(S):

Steven Gerrard takes the acclaim of team-mates and the Wembley crowd after scoring last night Picture: OWEN HUMPHREYS/PA; John Terry celebrates
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:May 29, 2008
Words:653
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