Rio Ferdinand believes Steven Gerrard deserves a lot of credit for cultivating a spirit of togetherness in the England camp, after admitting cliques emerged between players of rival clubs during his early days with the national team.
Ferdinand, controversially left out of the Euro 2012 squad, has been impressed with the unity shown both on and off the pitch by Roy Hodgson's men in Poland and Ukraine.
Thinking back to when he joined the England set-up - as a West Ham player in 1996 - the 33-year-old recalls how difficult it was to fit in with everybody.
"When I first started with England, players would sit in distinct groups," Ferdinand told The Sun.
"You would have a table for Manchester United players, another for the Liverpool lads and one for Alan Shearer and his mob.
"I didn't know where to sit for fear I would upset one group or another and be marked down as in a particular gang. It all sounds strange now but that's how it was in those days.
"In the squad today you have plenty of Manchester United and Liverpool players but many have had a different upbringing.
"Andy Carroll, Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing have moved to Anfield, yet are north easterners. And, of course, Danny Welbeck knows Henderson from the time he was on loan at Sunderland."
Ferdinand has always felt it is important for everyone to feel included and he has hailed the influence of Gerrard on the collective team ethic.
The Manchester United defender believes Gerrard has also performed exceptionally on the pitch in the opening three games of the tournament.
"Steven will know, like I did, that you can't have people being left on the fringes, not being included, and he has made a real effort to support all the players," Ferdinand added.
"He has more than 90 caps but this feels as if it is his defining moment in an England shirt. He is leading by example, has had three assists and taken on all the responsibility really well. He wants to be the one the team relies on."