Little after a year following Steven Gerrard’s departure from Anfield, the former Liverpool skipper has formally announced his retirement from football after a 19-year career.
Many may not hold Gerrard in the highest regard, nor will they weep at his departure from football, but few can deny his breathtaking ability, admirable dedication and overall achievements over the past two decades.
A man of but two clubs, Liverpool and LA Galaxy, Stevie won almost every club competition there was on offer, as well as claiming a number of individual honours to boot!
His spell in America was a brief one, though it did not take long for the Englishman to become a firm fan favourite in the US.
Having moved to Los Angeles Galaxy at the end of the 2014/15 season, Gerrard’s final game came a little over a year later and was played on 6th November 2016, whereby Galaxy were sent crashing out of the MLS cup playoffs 3-1 on penalties following a 1-1 aggregate draw against Colorado Rapids.
Although his MLS career ended in disappointment it was his time with Liverpool which truly sets him apart as an all-time great.
Playing 710 games in the Liverpool red and scoring 186 goals in that time, Gerrard’s quality on and off the ball is nothing short of admirable.
The man had an almost incomprehensible passion and love for his team and the game and it was reflected in his performances.
Stevie is and was a born leader and was so often the beating heart of the Liverpool team.
All of these traits culminated in a plethora of quality performances however, two particular games come to mind when the name ‘Steven Gerrard’ is mentioned.
One of which is the 2005/06 FA cup final against West Ham, and the other is the 2004/05 Champions League final played against an AC Milan side with world-class quality in every department. I don’t have to mention that Liverpool completed an almost insurmountable comeback, drawing the game 3-3 after finding themselves 3 goals down at half time… However, I do find it apt to mention the mentality of Gerrard throughout that match.
Milan outplayed the Reds in the opening half and made it look effortless. A number of less resilient players would have resigned themselves to defeat in potentially the biggest game of their career. Gerrard on the other hand refused to give up and lead by example as AC Milan were dragged, kicking and screaming, back into contest with the Merseyside outfit.
The way in which Gerrard lead Liverpool on that night was inspirational. A true captain, leading by example and rising against all odds to put his team back in contention for European football’s greatest prize.It is these qualities shown on this night that truly epitomises Steven as a footballer, a true red with the head and heart of a winner, a man that is not afraid to stick his body on the line for the team he loves.
Though as is sadly the case, passion alone is not enough to win games, fortunately in Stevie’s case, the man had bags of ability in his wand of a right foot. As his Kop song emanates around Anfield to the tune of ‘Whatever will be, will be’ by Doris Day, you’ll soon know he can “pass the ball 40 yards” and how “he’s big and he’s f***ing hard”. However his footballing ability doesn’t just end there, not only is he a jack of all trades but he is a master of each of them.
Always the man for the big occasion, Gerrard almost never let pressure or the heat of the moment go to his head and was capable of contributing crucial goals and assisting just as many in his endeavours to bring Liverpool victory.
Stevie is the kind of player you could put anywhere on the pitch, from the number 9 position to centre-back, and he’d put a shift in, never moaning, just as a true leader should he got his head down, gave his all and did a good job of it!When a player of such quality comes along it is only typical the financial juggernauts attempt to entice them with promises of money and glory, and all too often such players fall for the honeypot. To Gerrard’s credit when these clubs came knocking he slammed the door in their face, making it clear where his loyalties lay, turning down the opportunity to play for Chelsea, Real Madrid and Inter Milan among others.
As football fans we are fortunate to have had a player of Gerrard’s caliber grace the pitch for a prosperous couple of decades and can all too often become caught up in club and nation rivalries and fail to acknowledge their quality.
Evidence of this is the whole Gerrard, Lampard, Scholes debacle, whereby fans of each team become all too mired in debating which one is the best of the three as opposed to appreciating each as a formidable athlete who we’ve been lucky, as lovers of football, to watch grace the field, no less in the same generation.
And that’s simply it, above all the rivalry and hatred, you cannot help but admire Gerrard (and his compatriots) and what he’s achieved in his career. To have played with the world’s best players, to have been managed by some top quality managers and to have plucked the heartstrings of football lovers across the globe.