The Liverpool legend and their captain for the past 12 seasons, is ready to bid his final adieu to the club and the league, with his move to LA Galaxy in the summer being finalised. Liverpool football club sports a list of some of the greatest players to have ever played in the league, and prior to Manchester United’s rise in the 21st century, were the most successful club in England. It still remains the most successful English club in Europe with 5 Champions league trophies in its cabinet.
Through the club’s 123-year-old history, the likes of Kevin Keegan, Graeme Souness, Ian Gallagher, Kenny Dalglish, Roger Hunt and Robbie Fowler have graced the Kop, helping them repeatedly achieve glory. Post Liverpool’s last league title, which was a quarter of a century ago, they entered a period of mediocrity in their history. Despite inexplicable transfers, an exodus of quality players being replaced by mediocre talents, and managerial instability, Steven George Gerrard has been that one player who’s produced some standout performances despite all the persistent odds. He became a master of the long ball; he passes and crosses with a technical precision and accuracy that is unmatched by any player in the world, not only endearing him to the red half of Merseyside, but also earning him the grudging admiration of football fans worldwide.
He captained the famous Liverpool side in the 2005 Champions League final in Istanbul, probably the most dramatic one till date, where a beleaguered Liverpool were battered 3-0 in the first half by AC Milan. But in a high octane second half, Liverpool miraculously scored 3 goals in 6 minutes, with Steven Gerrard opening the floodgates with a quality header. Liverpool went on to win that match on penalties, beating an AC Milan side consisting of Cafu, Maldini, Nesta, Pirlo, Kaka, Seedorf, Dida, Shevchenko and Crespo. Indeed, this was Liverpool’s 5th European Cup triumph in their long history, but it was also probably the weakest Liverpool team in their history to achieve this. In the FA Cup Final the following season, Gerrard scored 2 absolutely beautiful screamers, one from close range and one from 35 yards out, to take his side to penalties and secure their 7th FA Cup crown.
He is a leader of immense quality, and someone who commands respect both from his teammates and his opponents. Martin Tyler, legendary English commentator, perfectly encapsulates it by saying ‘When you need someone to stand up and be counted, you always have Steven Gerrard.’
In a period where football has been thoroughly commercialised, Steven Gerrard embodies another forgotten ethic of the sport- loyalty. Apart from his brief flirtation with Chelsea in 2005, he has completed almost 17 seasons at his boyhood club, rejecting big money contracts from the biggest clubs in Europe, to stay season after season at Anfield. In these years, 6 managers have come and gone, and an astonishing number of strikers- from Emile Heskey to Robbie Fowler to Michael Owen to Fernando Torres to Luis Suarez, to name a few have left for greener pastures. But his passion and commitment to Liverpool have remained unchanged, undaunted. Last season itself, Liverpool made an unlikely push for their first Premier League title, and their first league title in 24 years, spearheaded by Stevie G himself, but an unfortunate slip by him in the penultimate game against Chelsea denied them the title, and its unfortunate repercussions continue to haunt Stevie G and tarnish his legacy.
‘King’ Kenny Dalglish, ex Liverpool legend and manager, succinctly sums up Gerrard’s career at Liverpool – “He’s a fantastic statesman; he has been unbelievably successful with this football club with what he’s done, the amount of games he has pulled out the mire, and the general way he conducts himself.”
Gerrard’s final hurrah could yet be in the form of an FA Cup final on 30th May, his 35th birthday, should Liverpool reach it. Regardless of the outcome, Steven George Gerrard leaves Liverpool as nothing short of a legend, and one of the greatest players to have ever graced Anfield.