Steven Gerrard, you will never walk alone

Published: January 3, 2015
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Liverpool's Steven Gerrard smiles during his warm up before his team's English Premier League soccer match against Sunderland at Anfield in Liverpool. PHOTO: REUTERS

All the suspense regarding Steven Gerrard’s future at Liverpool came to an end when, on January 2nd, he finally announced his departure from his beloved hometown club. He described this as “the toughest decision” of his life.

The Reds captain will bring the curtain down on a glittering Anfield career that has spanned almost 17 years. This decision comes at a time when the club is struggling at the eighth Premier League spot and has been knocked out of the group stage of the UEFA Champions League, to which they returned after three season’s absence. Gerrard mentioned that he will not be playing for a competing club after this season as that would be something he “could never contemplate”, hence making his move to the Major League Soccer (MLS) more likely.

But until the end of this season, he will be leading his club and doing his best to help Liverpool win games.

Born in Whiston, Merseyside, young Gerrard joined the Liverpool Youth Academy at the age of 9, and then finally made his debut in 1998 against Blackburn Rovers for a club he would later captain in 2003. The following years would be considered the most successful in his career. In 2004-05 season, Liverpool were on the brink of being eliminated from the group stage of the UEFA Champions League, when Gerrard scored in the last five minutes of the match to secure Liverpool’s advancement to the knockout stage, from where they made their way to the final at Istanbul against AC Milan.

Steven Gerrard (C) celebrates after winning the Champions League trophy in the 2004-2005 session. Photo: AFP

This final would later be remembered as the “Miracle of Istanbul” because that night Liverpool went 3-0 down by half-time. But Gerrard exhibited his leadership skills by scoring in the 54th minute and inspiring his side to score two more and draw 3-3, which took them to the dramatic penalty shootout; the night was in their favour and it eventually led to their European triumph. Gerrard was awarded the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year for his inspirational performance and leadership.

Second to that miraculous European night was the 2006 FA Cup final victory against West Ham where Gerrard scored two goals that included one with a volley from 35-yards, which was probably the best goal of his career. During this period he was approached by various clubs that wanted him, which included AC Milan and Real Madrid, but he refused all such offers due to his deep love and loyalty towards his childhood club.

When questioned about Steven Gerrard, Carlo Ancelotti, the then AC Milan manager, stated that,

“Of course, I wanted to pair him up with Pirlo; putting Gerrard in mid-field with Pirlo would have been fantastic!”

The one thing that Gerrard will miss in his achievements is the Barclays Premier League title he worked so hard for over his long career and last season came very close to making his dream come true. But that slipping incident against Chelsea haunts him to date.

Steven Gerrard lifts the Carling Cup trophy. Photo: AFP

The following listed are Steven Gerrard’s honours and records that sum up his remarkable career to date:

Appearances and goals:

Club appearances (all competitions): 695

Club goals (all competitions): 180

Premier League appearances: 494

Premier League goals: 116

England caps: 114

England goals: 24

Club Honours:

UEFA Champions League: 2006

UEFA Cup: 2001

UEFA Super Cup: 2001 and 2005

FA Cup: 2001 and 2006

League Cup: 2001, 2003 and 2012

FA Community Shield: 2006

Photo: File

Individual Honours:

UEFA Club Football of the Year: 2005

Ballon d’Or Bronze Award: 2005

England Player of the Year: 2007 and 2012

FWA Footballer of the Year: 2009

PFA Players’ Player of the Year: 2006

PFA Young Player of the Year: 2001

PFA Fans’ Player of the Year: 2001 and 2009

The departure of Liverpool’s 12 year captain is going to hit the club hard and will leave a great hole that the manager Brendan Rogers will find very difficult to fill. Rogers, who has yet to find an appropriate replacement for Luis Suarez on the team, will face an even greater challenge at the end of the season, and overcoming it is fundamental to Liverpool’s future.

All Liverpool fans should hope for the best in the future and savour the sight of Steven Gerrard playing for his club for the last few months before his retirement. I would like to conclude with the captain’s own message to his fans:

“My final message is for the people who make Liverpool Football Club the greatest in the world – the supporters. It has been a privilege to represent you, as a player and as captain. I have cherished every second of it and it is my sincere wish to finish this season and my Liverpool career on a high.”

Steven Gerrard, you will never walk alone.

Usman Mahmood

Usman Mahmood

A sophomore at Lahore School of Economics, an avid reader and a hardcore Liverpool FC fan. He tweets @Usman14 (twitter.com/Usman14)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.