The 38-capped Liverpool vice-captain was part of the England squad during their ill-fated 2010 World Cup campaign in South Africa, having previously retired from the international arena in 2007.
The 33-year-old defender, who was on the bench when England were knocked out of the competition in a 4-1 loss to Germany, said that the scrutiny of both fans and the media can have a negative effect on players.
“One mistake and you could be absolutely slaughtered,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live documentary Three Lions Out of Africa. “At your club, you know you will not be criticised as much and perhaps three days later there will be another game.
“With England, it could be months before you have another fixture. There is a fear at times when playing for England.
“The intensity of the press does get to the players. Sometimes I think players would prefer the press guy to think they had played well, rather than the manager."
Three Lions Out of Africa airs on BBC Radio 5 Live tonight at 19.30.