Gerrard - Let's seize moment

England skipper confident of ending quarter-final hoodoo

Steven Gerrard: Believes England will rise to the occasion against Italy

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Steven Gerrard knows from experience that opportunities do not come around very often and he has urged his England team-mates to rise to the occasion against Italy.

England slipped out of three major tournaments at the quarter-final stage during Sven Goran Eriksson's reign and Gerrard is aware that there is talk of a hoodoo.

But he is confident the Three Lions can progress beyond the last-eight stage for the first time since Euro '96 by beating the Azzurri on Sunday.

He recognises that England will have to produce an improved display to make it through to a semi-final against Germany, but feels they have the strength of character to perform on the big stage.

The Liverpool midfielder said: "In previous tournaments we just haven't shown what we are capable of. But our performances are getting stronger in this competition.

"That is what gives me the belief and confidence that we can end this hoodoo that people talk about.

"I get told that not many of the current players have figured in quarter-finals, but they are all big-game players and are aware of what is required.

"It is important they seize the moment, seize the opportunity, because from experience, I know they don't come around very often.

"It is important nobody leaves anything out on the pitch and show the critics we are good enough to compete at this level."

"It is important nobody leaves anything out on the pitch and show the critics we are good enough to compete at this level."

Steven Gerrard

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Balotelli threat

Gerrard knows that England will have to contain Mario Balotelli if he is recalled to the starting line-up by Italy.

The controversial Manchester City man scored off the bench against the Republic of Ireland on Monday, and is rarely far from the action.

Gerrard said: "We all know about Mario, we watch him week in and week out in the Premier League. He's an excellent and dangerous player.

"He is someone we will have to take extra care of if he is chosen, and we will have to try and contain him tomorrow night."

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