It was a sunny afternoon in May 2000 when Steve Gerrard made his England debut against Ukraine - a promising, assured performance which hinted at much more to come.
Just how much more soon became apparent with a key second-half cameo role at Euro 2000 in the victory over Germany.
Fitness problems dogged his early England career - he missed out on the 2002 World Cup through injury. But by then he'd played a significant part in the most memorable of the 220-plus games which I've covered over the years with England.
September 2001 in Munich. England went an early goal down against Germany, but then stormed back to thrash their old rivals 5-1. Yes Michael Owen scored a hat-trick, but the goal which stood out was Gerrard's super-strike right on half-time to give England a priceless 2-1 lead. Incidentally Gerrard describes this as his favourite England game.
He first captained his country in 2004 in Sweden - ironically his first defeat in an England shirt - but he's proved to be a fine leader on and off the field whenever called upon.
The 2010 World Cup and 2012 Euros were difficult tournaments for England, but Gerrard drove the team on and emerged with great credit.
He's the elder statesman of the side now, yet still an inspiration for the younger generation.
He'll always be one of my all-time favourite England players because of how much he gives to the cause. Steven Gerrard deserves to grace Brazil 2014 and I, for one, can't wait to see him there.
GERRARD'S TOP FIVE ENGLAND GAMES
September 2001 - Germany 1 England 5
Gerrard scores his first goal for his country as England come from a goal down to achieve one of their most memorable triumphs in Munich's Olympic Stadium and revive their World Cup qualification hopes. Michael Owen scores a hat-trick and there is even a rare goal from Emile Heskey.
June 2006 - England 2 Trinidad and Tobago 0
Gerrard puts the agony of missing out on the 2002 finals through injury behind him by netting his first World Cup tournament goal to seal victory after Peter Crouch nets the opener with only seven minutes remaining.
March 2007 - Andorra 0, England 3
Gerrard drags England off the floor almost single-handedly with an inspired second 45 minutes in this Euro 2008 qualifier in Barcelona after a dismal first-half performance in which fans chant non-stop vitriol towards manager Steve McClaren. He scores twice before David Nugent nets his only international goal.
September 2009 - England 5 Croatia 1
Revenge is sweet for Gerrard and his team-mates after missing out on the Euro 2008 finals as Croatia are hammered at Wembley to secure a place at the 2010 World Cup. The Liverpool skipper and Frank Lampard share four goals with Wayne Rooney the other marksman.
June 2012 - England 1 France 1
One can sense the pride as Gerrard leads England into a major tournament - Euro 2012 - as official captain for the first time. He sets up the opener for Joleon Lescott with a pinpoint cross only for Samir Nasri to equalise. Gerrard named in the UEFA team of the tournament.
|Player||Steven Gerrard for England|
|Pass Completion %||79%|
|Tackles Won %||74%|
Should Steven Gerrard captain England in Brazil if they qualify for World Cup 2014?