Kieran Davies doffs his cap at a retiring legend. What a hit son.
Around the world millions upon millions of people worship Gods with little or no scientific proof for their existence. Just belief alone is enough to convince them that these idols existed and were capable of the miracles told about them. In the 90th minute of a football match at Anfield on the 29th November 1998, Vegard Heggem was substituted for a fresh faced boy in a game Liverpool were leading 2-0.His name…..Steven George Gerrard. Little did the fans in the stadium that day realise they were witnessing the birth of a legend. 504 games later, Gerrard has called a day on a magnificent career spanning 17 years for his childhood club. Winning nine major honours and countless individual awards in this country and abroad, Steven Gerrard is a true legend. Often the scourge of opposing teams as he so often stepped up to the plate for his side, causing despair for them, later earning himself the tag Captain Fantastic.
Players who commit their entire careers to their local club who they grew up watching themselves are a breed of footballer that is in danger of becoming extinct in the modern game. Gerrard had Liverpool Football Club coursing through his veins and even a flitting swan-song at L.A. Galaxy couldn’t change that. Rumours circulate that Gerrard will soon be entering a new phase in his career, back where he belongs at Anfield as part of the coaching staff as he learns a new trade now that his playing days are over. Liverpool fans yearn to have their hero back at the club and only time will tell whether this becomes a reality. Small minded fans will reflect on that Gerrard never won a Premier League title with The Reds or highlight that slip that led to a Djemba Ba goal at Anfield for Chelsea, the fact of the matter is that Gerrards career was akin to a fairytale storyline. Never has a player managed to create something from nothing as Gerrard did, games were never over until he decided it was. Liverpool became renowned as a team who played until that final whistle, often scoring big goals late on to break hearts.
Every fan has his favourite Gerrard moments to remember and it is testament to the player himself that there are so many to choose from. Olympiakos, West Ham and A.C. Milan can all vouch for this but there are just so many moments of brilliance to reflect on. This club meant everything to this player, everyday he went to training he was living his dreams out, he would lay on a grenade for this club. You can’t buy passion like that and in the modern game, too many players are focussed on their own self-importance as opposed to the club and the fans who make their wages possible.
League titles aside, I don’t think the player would swap as many Premier League winners medals you could throw at him for the Champions League campaign of 2004/2005. It had everything. The group stage was difficult, defeats away to Monaco and Olympiakos left Liverpool in a position of needing to win their final group game (at home to Olympiakos) by two clear goals. On paper, a result you would fancy, but Olympiakos had a certain Rivaldo in their ranks. When they won a free kick on the edge of the box, the Brazilian magician scored and Anfield fell silent as the reality dawned they now needed three unanswered goals. In the second half an early goal drew the game level, then an 81st minute goal put Liverpool in the lead but they still needed a third. GGGGGGEEEEERRRRRRAAAAARRRRRRDDDD! OH YA BEAUTY, WHAT A HIT SON, WHAT A HIT! As The Reds talisman fired in a 25 yard screamer! They comfortably beat Bayer Leverkusen in the first knockout round, Juventus in the quarter final and then came that Chelsea game. Many will talk about the Garcia ghost goal but letsnot forget had that not been given, Petr Cech had wiped out Milan Baros in the build up and would’ve seen a straight red card had the advantage not been played. The goal saw Liverpool through to the final. Then came Istanbul, the dream for any kid growing up watching their favourite team…….leading them out as captain in a European Cup final! It didn’t go according to plan at first, Milan had not read the script they were sent. In the first 45 minutes they were untouchable. 1-0 became 2-0, 2-0 became 3-0, Liverpool went in at half time feeling punch-drunk. Gerrard recalls how they walked past the Milan dressing room and they were celebrating like it was the final whistle and the game was won! Benitez gave a rousing team talk, picked the players up and changed the tactics, but he needed a leader on the pitch to implement his plans. Who better than Steven Gerrard? In six minutes of mesmerising football, Liverpool came back from the brink and Milan looked beaten. The players gave it their all, many of them looked dead on their feet. It was all worth it, the moment the penalty shootout was won, the greatest comeback in the history of the European Cup was complete. The image of Gerrard kissing that trophy was ingrained into the memory of every Liverpool fan lucky enough to witness it. Mocking friends had mysteriously disappeared and phones were switched off. Every player on that pitch was a hero, all led by their inspirational leader……….Steven George Gerrard.
Many teams tried to prise him away from Anfield, Chelsea coming the closest, but Captain Fantastic could not be bought. The man will forever be written into Liverpool folk-law and rightly so. The Premier League may never see another like him. Opposing fans hated him, jealous of his abilities as a footballer, as a leader, as an inspiration to others. The man who so often saved his side with world class performances, something the fans almost took for granted. It is true what they say, you don’t realise what you have until its gone. There may never be another Steven Gerrard, we can only be grateful that there ever was one.
Hopefully, he can become part of the Anfield coaching structure, inspiring others to emulate his greatness, teaching them what it means to be a Liverpool footballer. If Steven Gerrard can mould the future stars of Liverpool’s academy, surely the future will be very bright for the Anfield outfit. Players like Gerrard were in awe of someone like Kenny Dalglish, now the baton has been passed and it is time for Stevie G to run with it. Now is the time to take stock, remember, ponder on the career of a true great.
Steven George Gerrard, thank you for all you have done for Liverpool Football Club, we owe you a great debt. The word legend is bandied around far too easily nowadays: Gerrard is the true epitome of the word.