The word ‘legend’ is overused in the modern game but it is the only word to use when describing Steven Gerrard. The former Liverpool midfielder announced his retirement this week, ending the career of one of England’s greatest ever players.
But what is the sign of a great player? Perhaps it is the praise received from fellow professionals, especially those who may have suffered because of your ability on the pitch. His tweet may not have featured on the official Liverpool website and he may be a former England colleague but it speaks volumes that a former Everton and current Manchester United player spoke in glowing terms about Gerrard. Wayne Rooney took to Twitter to state how Gerrard was one of the best there has ever been. Some praise for a player who surely knew the backlash he would receive from his own fans for such a statement.
The comment from Rooney alone is enough to make anyone understand just what an impact Gerrard has on the players he played with and those he played against. Luis Suarez wrote a lovely statement about how Gerrard helped him, not only as a footballer but as a person. This goes someway to understanding how Gerrard touched the careers and lives of the players who were fortunate to pull on the same jersey as the 114 time England international. Even Barcelona football club took the time to congratulate Gerrard on everything he has given the world of football.
Has there ever been a more complete midfielder in the game than Gerrard? The ability to tackle, pass and shoot with unerring accuracy are skills only a handful of players master at the top level of the professional game. The difference between Gerrard and other players? These players are a master of one of these skills, Gerrard was a master of all three. Add leadership, motivation and drive, three qualities Gerrard possessed in abundance and you have the perfect footballer. Not forgetting those special moments of magic of course. Istanbul, Olympiakos and the 2006 FA Cup Final are just a few examples of how Gerrard’s individual brilliance came through, at a crucial time for his team.
Taking all these factors into account, it is little wonder current Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp, has opened the door for Gerrard to return to Anfield. “The door is always open for him. From our side, if he wants to make a different career to his former career then we want to help him”. This suggests Gerrard could be making a return to Liverpool soon, perhaps in a coaching role or working with the youth team. Imagine, as a young player trying to make the grade at Liverpool, having a mentor like Steven Gerrard to help with your development. It’s the stuff dreams are made of and those dreams could soon become a reality for Liverpool’s youth players.
Klopp held back from saying too much about Gerrard as a player. He never coached him after all but the German was keen to see the assembled press make their own stories about Gerrard’s career, having only seen him play live on one occasion. One telling thing Klopp did do, was to mention the names of Pele, Franz Beckenbauer and Johan Cruyff.
These are the greatest players in the history of the game and now is the time for Steven Gerrard to be added to that list.
Watch the legend Steven Gerrard’s best goals for Liverpool below.