STEVEN GERRARD reckons he may not have recovered from a career-threatening injury had it not been for the psychiatrist who England will now count on at this summer’s World Cup.
Roy Hodgson confirmed on the eve of England’s friendly against Denmark that Dr Steve Peters will accompany the squad to Brazil.
The psychiatrist has a long and varied history of assignments.
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He helped the police with the investigation into the Soham murders and he has also spent time working at Rampton psychiatric hospital, which houses some of the most dangerous criminals in the country.
But it is his success in the world of sport that has led the FA to sign Peters up for the World Cup.
Peters has helped Britain’s track athletes and cycling stars such as Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish win Olympic gold and he has most recently earned praise at Liverpool.
“He is not just any psychologist, he is a very famous man in that area,” Hodgson said.
“He has a great CV of working in different sports and has been doing some work with Liverpool.
“It is something we have spoken about for some time but we wanted to get the right man – luckily Brendan (Rodgers, Liverpool manager) let me talk to Steve and he has accepted our invitation, so we are happy with that.
“We are really happy that we got the man we wanted, someone who can understand the football environment and join us rather than lecture to the players.”
Gerrard feels England could not have turned to a better man to help the squad deal with pressures of performing on the world’s biggest stage over what could turn out to be a seven-week period if the team make the final.
The Liverpool captain has been seeing Peters for three years and he is a big fan of his critically-acclaimed self-help book ‘The Chimp Paradox’, which aims to boost the reader’s confidence and eliminate doubt.
Indeed if it were not for Dr Peters’ help, Gerrard reckons he could have been forced to hang up his boots following a serious injury he suffered four years ago.
“I had a career-threatening injury called a groin avulsion where the muscle comes off the bone,” Gerrard said.
“I’d seen three or four surgeons and they weren’t really convincing me that I could maybe play again so I turned to him.
“He helps you with positivity, the power of thought, and staying upbeat, that sort of stuff.
“It was a very important stage in my career. I went to see him and I can only speak very highly of my private oneon- ones with him.
“I read his book and now I basically understand the different parts of the brain, how they work, when they function and why you think certain things, why you bite your children’s heads off from time to time, blame (wife) Alex for everything and so on.
“He does simplify things and I am a lot more patient as a person now and I think I’ve improved as a person. He’s also helped me with the game as well.”
Peters works one day a week with the Merseyside club, but he has been in contact with Gerrard for three years.
Liverpool have given permission for Peters to link up with the squad in the summer and he will head to Brazil with the squad in June.
England have previously employed staff to look at how to help players deal with the mental strain of turning out for the national team.
Steve McClaren had his former Middlesbrough compatriot Bill Beswick on his backroom staff, Sven-Goran Eriksson used Norwegian sports psychologist Willi Railo in the build-up to the 2002 World Cup while Glenn Hoddle imfamously put his trust in faith healer Eileen Drewery.
For Hodgson, working with Dr Peters will be his first such experience in 38 years of management.
The England boss was quick to play down suggestions that the employment of such an individual will help the Three Lions suddenly rid themselves of their dreadful penalty record.
“It is important that I don’t heap too much pressure onto him and suggest we will now be better at a World Cup and suddenly we will never miss a penalty any more or no player will ever get sent off or lose his temper,” the 66-year-old said “But at least from my point of view I am bringing somebody on board who I think can only do good.
“His advice, ideas and approach to things can only help.”