When Gerard Houllier arrived at Anfield, as part of his rebuilding program the first goal was to bolster Liverpool’s midfield. He was reminded by club secretary Peter Robinson that the manager didn’t need to go out and buy a world-class midfielder, there was one already sitting in the youth ranks. There was a genius in the youth academy who was ready to break in into the first team. It was of course Steven Gerrard..
Steven Gerrard is an epitome of success, class and determination in Liverpool’s rich history. A one of a kind player, whose achievements can’t be described alone by the trophies he’s won. Gerrard, a small baby faced boy from Merseyside came to Liverpool academy at a tender age of nine and left as a battle hardened veteran, completely changing Liverpool’s course in 17 years.
During his time at Anfield, the Whiston born witnessed the emergence of some of the greatest names in football including Michael Owen, Luis Suarez, and Fernando Torres to name a few. They all have come and gone but Gerrard has stuck his guns and at times singlehandedly carried Liverpool on his shoulders. While his generation’s players like Kaka, Zinedine Zidane, Paul Scholes, Frank Lampard have got plentiful praises and spotlight, one may say Gerrard has been an underrated Legend. Let’s relive the glorious years of Gerrard’s majestic career.
Where it all began…
Steven Gerrard picked up football boots at a very young age and Liverpool scouts were quick to spot him. It took him eight years since joining the Reds academy to earn his first professional contract. Gerrard’s debut arrived in November 1998 when he played the last minute of the game against Blackburn Rovers. That season, he was mainly called up to the starting line up to cover for injured captain Jamie Redknapp.
For the fans and pundits who saw the infant Gerrard during his initial time in the league, no one would have placed a bet that this man would once become a league legend. The midfielder drew criticism for his nervousness and unconfident play. Soon, the Englishman was able to put nerves to bed and started to acclimatize to the English Top Flight.
Liverpool’s continuous faith in Gerrard was finally repaid with steely performances. His first goal for the club arrived against Sheffield Wednesday. However, niggling back problems and fitness concerns started to overshadow Gerrard’s on field showings. The injuries started to hamper his growth and concerns were raised that will Gerrard overcome the barrier or will his career succumb to injuries?
After four separate operations, he began his rehabilitation and was soon able to play. His unquestioned determination and dedication was lauded by supporters and the management as the team won the FA Cup, the League Cup and the UEFA Cup. The injuries had not knocked him off but instead hardened him for a bigger responsibility: The Captaincy.
Then Liverpool manager, Gerard Houllier, had spotted remarkable leadership qualities in a young man that had just turned 23. At an age where young footballers are generally seen partying at the clubs, spending off days somewhere on the beaches of Ibiza, Gerrard was handed the captaincy in 2003. The following season saw the Reds go trophy-less and captain Gerrard was linked with a sensational move to Chelsea, however, new coach Rafael Benitez was successful in making Gerrard believe that the club will rise and regain their status of the best club in England.
A Legendary Career…
A dissection of Gerrard’s career is never complete without mentioning miracle of Istanbul. In the buildup to the marvel, Liverpool had some very nervy moments and in times of such crisis, they did turn to their captain to show them the light. On the final matchday of the group stage in the UEFA Champions league, the Merseysiders needed a win to secure their safe passage to the knockout rounds. Liverpool faced the might of Olympiacos and beat them after coming from a goal behind to win 3-1 and ensure a round of 16 berth. Gerrard came on as a substitute after nearly spending two months on the sidelines due to injury and scored a scrumptious volley.
On the road to the final the Reds beat the likes of Chelsea, Juventus and Bayer Leverkusen to fix up a clash with fearsome AC Milan. At halftime, Rafa Benitez’s men trailed the Rossoneri by three goals. The entire team, supporters looked for some inspiration from their captain, their leader, their messiah. Gerrard did provide a spark of motivation, scoring a brilliant bullet header from John Arne Riise’s cross to initiate the comeback. In the next 5 minutes, Liverpool scored two more goals to level the scoreline to 3-3. Stevie did play a part in the third goal as well, as Gennaro Gattuso brought him down and a penalty was awarded. After 120 minutes of frantic and nerve wracking football, the game ended as 3-3 and a penalty shootout was needed to separate the two sides. Liverpool did manage to win the shootout 3-2 and Gerrard would become the first Liverpool captain to lift the UEFA Champions League in the last 20 years. The finale was latter dubbed as “Miracle of Istanbul” and is till date considered to be the one of the best ever finals in the competition’s history.
Soon after the Champions League triumph, reports started emerging that Gerrard had contract issues. Steven Gerrard for the second time rejected a lucrative offer from Chelsea, this time the Blues were offering a club record £100,000 a week in wages to the Englishman. After intense negotiations, Gerrard finally signed a new contract and pledged his absolute loyalty to the club. The 2005-06 season saw a refreshed Gerrard hungry for success and managed to score 23 goals in the entire campaign. The midfielder was adjudged as the PFA player of the year.
If you felt that Gerrard’s leadership and contribution in Istanbul were the most he could do, you’re wrong. The captain lead from the front in the FA Cup final of 2006 against West Ham United. Stevie scored a stunning long range equalizer deep in the stoppage time to send the game into extra time. His brace not only saved the Reds from a brutal loss but instead helped them win the FA Cup through penalties, sending the jubilant Liverpool supporters into euphoria.
The Merseysiders did manage to reach yet another Champions League final in 2007 against the same old foe, AC Milan. The Rossoneri determined for redemption, took a 2-0 lead with eight minutes to play. Sadly, Gerrard could not instigate another comeback as Milan were victorious in Athens.
Steven Gerrard continued to push the team to greater heights but the team did suffer when he missed several games due to injuries. Liverpool had become a force to reckon with, as coach Rafa Benitez and captain Steven worked in tandem. Impressive victories against Real Madrid and Manchester United lead the world media to praise Liverpool and ponder on whether they were the best side. The only downside of the above argument? The Reds didn’t have a League title to show and Gerrard was desperate to change that notion. However, Gerrard again fell victim to injuries on a regular basis and with the captain’s fall, the troops also surrendered. Liverpool all of a sudden were failing to make much impact, win Cups or even reach the Champions League spots.
After six long years, Liverpool were successful in reaching a cup final. Steve was decisive in the semi finals against Manchester City as he scored a penalty in both the legs as Liverpool reached the final to take on Cardiff City. The Reds won the League cup on penalties and Gerrard was at the heart of it.
The Football League cup was seen as a sign of more trophies to come. The fans started to believe that a Premier League trophy can still be won with Gerrard’s leadership. Following the 2012-13 season, many significant moments arrived in Stevie’s career. In October 2013, he became the longest serving Liverpool captain, assuming the responsibility for 10 years. In October, he also scored his 100th Premier League goal. The 2013-14 season was iconic in its own way. Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool were creating havoc with Luis Suarez, Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge firing on all cylinders. To add the spice, Gerrard was always present when the others failed and made sure that the team walked out happily. Gerrard scored twice from the spot to win against West Ham United to send the Merseysiders on top of the table with five games to play. This moment, this exact moment, the Liverpool supporters thought that they were destined to break the hoodoo and win the league. The captain who had delivered priceless moments of joy would soon be the one to snatch away the happiness of enjoying a title victory.
On April 27, 2014, Liverpool led the league table when they were set to take on Chelsea, with three games to play. The captain slipped while receiving a pass which allowed Chelsea striker Demba Ba to captialize and score a goal. The Blues went on to defeat Liverpool 2-0 and the Gerrard slip was titled as the “Premier league slip” as the Reds never recovered from that and Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City won their second Premier league title.
A lot of criticism and backlash followed with people demanding Gerrard’s retirement but like a man who has always stood up to difficulties and fears, the midfielder decided to remain at Melwood and help Liverpool in the future endeavors. Steven Gerrard initially refused to retire at the end of the 2014-15 season, insisting that he would join another club if a new deal wasn’t offered. The following season was Liverpool’s harsh return to mediocrity. On January 1, the 34 year old announced that he’d leave Merseyside at the end of the season. This now meant that the fans had very limited time to watch their legend, their leader in the Liverpool red.
Towards the business end of Gerrard’s Premier league career, he managed to achieve some of the rarest feats. He made his 700thLiverpool appearance and his 500th league appearance during the culmination of the campaign. Yet, one moment of controversy, one final stain was to appear of Gerrard’s illustrious career. The Reds faced arch rivals Manchester United in March 2015. With the Merseysiders trailing 1-0 at half time, Gerrard came on as a substitute to influence the game. But 38 seconds since coming on, he stamped on Ander Herrera and referee Martin Atkinson did not hesitate in brandishing a red card to the captain.
Steven Gerrard’s Liverpool career”s final game was a 6-1 loss to Stoke which was the final time he walked out as a Liverpool player, a ferocious leader on the pitch.
A short stint in the MLS with LA Galaxy between 2015-16 was mainly seen as a marketing move rather than a player going there to achieve something. Gerrard finally hung up his boots in November 2016 aged 36.
Despite all the injuries, the debacle against Chelsea, Steven Gerrard will always be remembered as one of the greatest players to grace the football field: A Captain, an abundant source of energy and inspiration, a player who wore his heart on his sleeve for Liverpool. He has given a whole new dimension to the word loyalty by remaining at this boyhood club for decades.
Steven Gerrard has been so influential that for many, Gerrard and Liverpool are synonyms of each other. And for a lifelong Liverpool fan, who got to live his dream, “You’ll never walk alone” will always reverberate in his ears.
What was Steven Gerrard footballer like…
When Gerrard began his career, he played on the right side as a wide midfielder; he never made a name for himself in that position due to his tendency to become nervous and not make the right decision. After a lot of polishing and position changes, he was best suited for a defensive midfield role. While learning the art of defensive midfield, the coaches at Liverpool had discovered an aggressive ball winner who often supplemented the attack and created defence splitting chances.
Gerrard was truly one of the best midfielders to ever play in the Premier League. The deceptive turns of pace often sent the opposition into frenzy. His technical skills were sublime, the subtle moments of wizardry combined with an eye to spray penetrative passes and powerful vision made Gerrard a lethal player to have in the side.
Under Rafa Benitez, Gerrard performed a number of roles from being a box to box midfielder to playing behind the striker in a creative role to a deep lying playmaker. Gerrard executed all the roles with startling ease. With age, Gerrard’s ability to run up and down the field reduced, him joining the attacks became a rare sight with majority of his goals coming from dead ball situations. Yet, he was tactically nuanced and his ability to read the game is till date considered being top class.
What are the moments we remember Steven Gerrard for…
Steven Gerrard was handed the captain’s armband in October 2003 by then coach Gerard Houllier. The Englishman captained Liverpool for the next 12 years and oversaw some of the greatest moments in the club’s history.
In October 2013, Steven Gerrard became the longest serving Liverpool captain overtaking Alex Raisbeck.
The midfielder was always known for his leadership on and off the field. He was a natural and a significant voice in the dressing room. He’s deemed as one of the best captains in football, not because his team won a lot of trophies but simply for the fact that he was able to keep the team together even during the times of crisis.
Averting Greek Tragedy
Miracle of Istanbul would have never happened… Liverpool were headed for a group stage exit after Rivaldo gave a shock lead to Olympiacos at Anfield.
There’s a saying, “Cometh the hour, cometh the man” and Gerrard rose to the occasion with an unmatchable fervor that inspired an epic fightback.
The Reds scored two epic goals to stage a comeback. However, they still needed to score one more goal to ensure safe passage on goal difference. The stage was set, Gerrard came in and fired a neatly connected shot from 35 yards and the Anfield erupted in joy.
Six fairytale minutes in Istanbul
Carlo Ancelotti’s Milan shell shocked Liverpool when the led 3-0 at halftime. Liverpool looked lost, dazed and knocked out. This is when legends step up and deliver their masterpiece.
Gerrard started the sensational comeback, scoring a bullet header from John Arne Riise’s cross. The next 5 minutes of the match will be etched in every Liverpool fan’s memory for centuries. Gerrard orchestrated one of the best comebacks of the ages as Liverpool drew 3-3 and later won the game on penalties to complete the Miracle of Istanbul. The player himself considers being the best moment of his career.
Gerrard stood up and decided today wasn’t the day he’d walk out as a loser. How often have we seen certain people refusing to bow down to their fates and in such situations creating something unimaginable that forces destiny to bend to their own will?
FA Cup heroics
Just when Liverpool fans thought Gerrard guiding Liverpool to an impossible Champions League triumph was his memorable moment, captain marvel decided to do it once again after 12 months. After a woeful start at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium and going behind 0-2 to West Ham, Liverpool came back into the match because of Gerrard’s ability and tenacity.
Gerrard set up striker Djibril Cisse to reduce the deficit and then scored the equalizing goal himself. The score was now 2-2. Unfortunately, Hammers again regained the lead and with the Merseysiders seconds away from defeat, captain marvel connected again with a blistering long-range drive to force extra time. Liverpool went on to win in a penalty shoot-out that eventually included the captain’s successful spot kick.
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool are tearing 2019-2020 season’s Premier League. They already have one hand on the Premier League trophy as they lead the league by double digits. Every Liverpool scouser’s wildest dreams of winning the league might come true this year. However, 2013-14 season was also a close call and the world might have seen Steven Gerrard lift the Premier League crown but…
Leading the Premier League table with five matches to play, Stevie looked to add another piece of silverware in his trophy cabinet. Playing against Chelsea, the Merseysiders lead the table coming into the game. The match was evenly poised at 0-0 when just before the half time whistle, the captain slipped while receiving a pass allowing Demba Ba to collect the ball and run towards goal. At half time, Reds trailed 1-0 and never improved from the goal losing the game 2-0.
Premier League titles are decided by an accumulation of incidents which are never equal in weight. Injuries, refereeing decisions, last-minute goals and missed sitters happen during season but forgotten for more famous ones or die out as they grow old. Unfortunately that iconic slip against Chelsea became Steven Gerrard’s career blot forever. The following months were described as “hell” by Gerrard. Liverpool were so close to ending the league drought and it became infamous that Reds had bottled it . Steven Gerrard later admitted that moment has become a haunting memory of his life.
Where is Steven Gerrard currently ( January 2020 )…
Steve currently manages Scottish side Rangers. He assumed their charge on June 1, 2018. The manager was instantly able to transpire his ideas in the team as Rangers went twelve matches unbeaten in all competitions from the start of the season before finally suffering defeat on 2 September to rivals Celtic. In 99 games incharge, the club has won 61 games and has also guided the team into Europa League knockout stages.
He also had a brief stint as a manager in Liverpool’s academy. The Englishman managed youth teams, U-18 and U-19 teams before finally setting sail to Scotland.
How other premier league professional’s view Steven Gerrard…
Brendan Rodgers said “He dons his Superman cape, comes on and changes the whole dynamic of the game. That is what great players do and this is one of the modern greats of the game.”
Fernando Torres said “The highest compliment I can pay him is that he’s as creative as a Xavi at Barcelona, with something extra as well. When you add his energy, toughness, leadership and goalscoring ability and the result is a fantastic all-round player. He is without doubt the greatest player I have ever played with, he has everything.”
Michael Owen said “I have played alongside some of the greatest footballers of my generation, but there is only one ex-team-mate I would rate higher than Steven Gerrard. The biggest compliment I can give him is he is second only to Zinedine Zidane in terms of his world-class status.”
Zinedine Zidane said “Is he the best in the world? He might not get the attention of Messi and Ronaldo but yes, I think he just might be. He has great passing ability, can tackle and scores goals, but most importantly he gives the players around him confidence and belief. You can’t learn that – players like him are just born with that presence.”
Sir Alex Ferguson said “I’ve watched him quite a lot. To me, Gerrard is Keane. Everywhere the ball is, he seems to be there. He’s got that unbelievable engine, desire, determination. Anyone would love to have Gerrard in their team.”
Jose Mourinho said “I tried to bring him to Chelsea, I tried to bring him to Inter, I tried to bring him to Real Madrid, but he was always a dear enemy. I was dreaming of having Claude Makelele, Gerrard and Frank Lampard in midfield.”
What Steven Gerrard says about Steven Gerrard…
“When I die, don’t bring me to the hospital. Bring me to Anfield. I was born there and will die there.”
“Loyalty doesn’t seem to be in the game that much these days where players leave their clubs which made them the stars they are today either to seek personal glory or fill their pockets. But one man serves as the epitome of club loyalty.”
“I didn’t sleep with the European Cup but it was in my room! It was just special and I just had to have the cup with me, lifting the cup as Liverpool captain was just the best moment of my life.”
“In football, the hero and legend status is given out far too easily for me.”
“Don’t visualize beating the keeper, visualize destroying the keeper.”
“I’ll admit, it gives me a real buzz when I hear my name being chanted and that feeling is the same now as it was when I first broke into the team.”
Steven Gerrard trivia…
Steven Gerrard is the only player to score in an FA Cup, League Cup, Champions League and UEFA Cup final.
Did you know that the midfielder did appear for trials with Liverpool’s arch rivals, Manchester United, at the age of 13. He later clarified that the move was just a ploy to pressurize the Reds hierarchy to give him a professional deal.
In Liverpool’s history Steven Gerrard holds an unwanted record of having the most number of red cards. He has been sent off six times.
Steven Gerrard is very fond of cars. The cars which he has owned include Jaguar XKR Convertible, Bentley GTC, Mercedes SLK, Range Rover Sport, Ferrari F430, Aston Martin Vanquish and Porsche 911 turbo.
Despite playing majority of his career as a defensive midfielder, Gerrard stands fifth in the Liverpool’s all time top scorer list notching 186 goals in 710 appearances.
Steven Gerrard Stats ( What you can find at wiki and other places )…
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