by Kevin Henning
And so it’s almost over. Anfield bade a fine farewell to Stevie G on Saturday and once he’s played his last Liverpool match on Sunday, we can consign the legend of the lens to the memory bank as the greatest midfielder in Premier League (and therefore all time according to SKY).
Those who aren’t supporters or fans of Liverpool Football Club could be forgiven for believing that this one-club-man (sic) is retiring this summer such has been the hours of airtime devoted to him. They might be shocked to learn that for the second time in his career, Gerrard has actually decided that now is the time for his own ‘Leaving of Liverpool’. It was allegedly Chelsea that persuaded him to leave last time but having listened to his head, his heart strings were pulled by his loyalty to the club that he had supported since he ditched the replica kit of their local rivals as a boy and that was the sole reason for his decision to stay, honestly.
He must have loved the cameras being trained solely on him from the moment he arrived at the ground on Saturday afternoon until he finally made his way down the players tunnel for the last time (until next time) and the fourth time on the day. After all, he was always happy to have their sole attention throughout his career. He even sought them out twice at Old Trafford to plant a big kiss on them in a moment of pure passion as the team he dedicated himself to won at their bitter rivals in campaigns where they came closest to earning the much coveted Premier League winners medal. Obviously on both occasions, after his moments with the cameramen he acknowledged his people up in the stands. And then of course there was his captain’s rallying cry after the title deciding match against Manchester City in 2014 when he gathered teammates and cameramen alike before warning all present that “We don’t let this slip!” That ended well didn’t it?
In fact, the only time he didn’t want his career to be played out purely for SKY was when he pushed away the camera at the end of a 3-3 annihilation of Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park when he showed a shocking disregard for a man trying to go about his work, the same work he’d coveted on so many previous occasions.
“The best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be” we were told, time and time again. Both SKY and the BBC bought this claim despite then showing us statistics within minutes that both Ryan Giggs and Frank Lampard had won more, scored more, assisted more and played more than the outgoing Liverpool player.
Lampard must wonder what he’s done wrong. Ryan Giggs had a one hour programme dedicated to his career by Murdoch’s empire, won the BBC’s sports personality of the year and the PFA Player of the Year during a season that he’d made only 12 starts. The outpouring of emotion for Gerrard as he sets sail for the USA may be in store for Lampard as he prepares for his last Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday but please, don’t hold your breath.
Let’s not dwell on the negatives though. Steven Gerrard gave us some unforgettable moments. The howitzer against West Ham United in the FA Cup final where the greatest player of his generation led his team to a penalty shootout win, his glorious goal against Olypiakos to pull Liverpool back from the brink of a humiliating exit from the Champions League and the most famous of all, the Miracle of Istanbul where, having been demolished for 45 minutes in what looked at the time like the biggest humiliation in European finals history, AC Milan “commited a mass suicide where we joined hands and jumped off the Bosphurus Bridge” (Andrea Pirlo) before being beaten on penalties. Wasn’t another of Gerrard’s trophies lifted after a penalty shootout, the famous League Cup victory over Championship Cardiff City?
We all have a favourite Gerrard moment, I believe mine might be the same as most non Liverpool fans. He single-handedly changed footballing history during his career. Had it not been for him, the Champions League, FA Cup, League Cup and Premier League title would all, at some stage have ended up in different hands and not too many players can lay claim to that. Thanks for the memories Stevie Me and good luck with your new club.