Football

A repeat of 1966, the Liverpool way?

In 1966, England's core comprised three heroes from the East End but, this summer, another working-class hotbed will provide the main driving force behind the nation's quest for glory.

At the end of Green Street, just outside West Ham's Boleyn Ground, there stands a bronze statue commemorating the club's contribution to England's only World Cup win.

The statue, designed by Philip Jackson, shows Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters holding up their West Ham teammate Bobby Moore, who has triumphantly raised the Jules Rimet trophy.

That year - 1966 - was the year that West Ham won the World Cup, if you believe Hammers fans.

If England are to win it this year, Liverpool supporters will do their damnedest to take the credit.

England boss Roy Hodgson, once manager of the red half of Merseyside, will be looking to Steven Gerrard, Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling to provide the inspiration for the nation.

Liverpool have no Moore-esque centre half in the squad but, in Gerrard, they have a man who possesses the same leadership skills as England's only World Cup-winning skipper.

Gerrard, captain ever since Hodgson replaced Fabio Capello as manager, heads to Brazil on the back of a fine season.

Opposition fans may well remember Gerrard for his costly slip against Chelsea, but they will also struggle to forget the way he pinged a pass between five Fulham defenders to find goal-scorer Sturridge at Craven Cottage.

His two penalties against Manchester United, his rousing team talk after the impressive win over Manchester City and his stunning free-kick against Hull will also take a while to fade from memory.

Ever the man to shun the limelight, Gerrard has spent most of the campaign showering praise on Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers and the young English charges that took the Reds so close to their first title in 24 years.

On Sterling, he said: "The form he is in at the moment he is the type of player you pay good money to go and see," the Liverpool captain said. "He gets you off your seat, he is exciting. He is strong and the pace he has is electric.

"He will be a big player for this country for a long time and I'm glad he is a red."

While Sterling has provided the pace down the flanks for Liverpool, Sturridge has been the Englishman who has provided the goals.

The former Chelsea man has scored 25 for Liverpool this year, but he is yet to reproduce that kind of form for his country.

Gerrard hopes that is about to change, adding: "The stage is set for Daniel. He is in terrific form."

There's Glen Johnson too - the defender who is back to his best following a spell out through injury.

And let us not forget Jordan Henderson. Bizarrely derided for his running style by Sir Alex Ferguson at the start of the year, the midfielder has answered his critics with a series of stunning performances.

It is not beyond possibility that all five could start England's Group D curtain-raiser against Italy in Manaus on June 14. They are all that good.

If England come away from the Maracana with the World Cup on July 13, maybe Hodgson will be minded to put his winnings towards a statue of Gerrard, Sterling and Sturridge outside Anfield.

- PA Sport.