Glen Johnson believes England and Liverpool team-mate Steven Gerrard's searing form at Euro 2012 is a result of manager Roy Hodgson awarding him the captain's armband.
Skipper Gerrard has been the standout player for his country so far, assisting three of their five goals and excelling at the heart of midfield as the Three Lions progressed to the quarter-finals.
The midfielder captained England throughout their disappointing World Cup campaign in South Africa, but the armband was handed down to him due to the absence of regular skipper Rio Ferdinand through injury.
This time around Gerrard has won the honour purely on merit, and Johnson feels it has prompted the Reds man to up his game.
He told Sky Sports: "Stevie has been a fantastic player for many, many years but with the armband I think he feels like he needs to step up just that tiny bit more and I think he's done that more than anyone so far."
Johnson accepts there has been a change in atmosphere since England's nightmare in South Africa but cannot pinpoint what has inspired the difference, adding: "It's a bit difficult to put your finger on.
"Obviously it's a different environment, with different members of staff. We tried our very best to do well in South Africa but for whatever reasons it didn't turn out too great. We're positive at the moment and we're hopeful."
The defender agrees with suggestions England are enjoying a new, closer relationship with their fans after the viewing ratings soared for Tuesday's final group game, a 1-0 victory over Ukraine.
He added: "I'll agree with that. I've just been told about the record rating of viewers for the game, so obviously the fans are there to support us and it feels like we're a big, tight unit."