KRAKOW, Poland (AP) – They are the enforcers who have powered an unheralded England side into the European Championship quarterfinals.
Captain Steven Gerrard, the catalyst in central midfield, has created three of England's five goals alongside the combative Scott Parker, who has tirelessly protected the back four.
Despite injury troubles in recent years, their energy and tenacity have been unrelenting as a gritty side topped its Euro 2012 group unbeaten and is now preparing to face Italy on Sunday in Kiev.
Gerrard's leadership qualities have shone since assuming the captaincy that was removed from John Terry due to the defender's looming racism trial.
The 31-year-old Parker has only made the breakthrough in the England team in the last 18 months.