On November 29th, 1998, the Premier League would change forever. An 18 year old Liverpudlian by the name of Steven George Gerrard made his debut in the last minutes of a league match against Blackburn Rovers. This young player would soon become a staple of the Reds, the League, European Football, and his national team. On January 1st, 2015, after a 2-2 home draw to Leicester City in which he scored two spot kicks, Captain Fantastic announced he would be leaving the club at the end of the season. After what will be 17 seasons with his boyhood club, one of the most influential midfielders of the game has essentially retired from the game, due to an inconsistent showing in the side. Only a few days later, he announced his likely destination to be the United States. Reports have the LA Galaxy, a former team of David Beckham’s, as his likely destination with an estimated weekly salary of about $115,000. With 182 goals in the red shirt, one champions league trophy (2005), one Uefa Cup (2001), two FA Cups (2001 and 2006), and three league cups (2001, 2003, and 2012), the only major trophy he hasn’t won at Anfield has been that of the premier league. The closest he has ever been to the ultimate title of the British game was the 2013/14 season, when Liverpool came in second, two points behind Manchester City. Some would attribute missing out on the title to Gerrard’s infamous slip that led to Demba Ba’s goal, the first of his side, in an 0-2 loss to Chelsea at the end of the season. Despite the gaffe, Gerrard remains in the hearts and minds of Liverpool fans throughout the world. The leader of a generation of both Liverpool squads and fans, only his reputation would escape such an error unscathed. He showed his worth on January 5th, soon after announcing his departure, with both goals in Liverpool’s cup tie against AFC Wimbledon that ended 2-1.
In his prime, Gerrard was undoubtedly one of the best midfielders in the world. A true box-to-box midfielder, his superbly well-rounded style of play stood out on the pitch. His impeccable technique, coupled with his work rate and his natural speed and power, made for an unstoppable player. A sniper from long range shots, and a classy finisher from close range, Gerrard slotted in 182 goals for his side from his position in midfield. Above all these superb qualities, however, stand out his devotion for the club and desire to win. The latter, most notable in his role in the miracle of Istanbul, had become a staple of his game. The former has been most visible under Brendan Rodgers. Now lacking the legs he once possessed, Gerrard adapted to a holding midfield position when his team needed him there. The token of his devotion to the club, however, has been his 17 seasons at the club. Through the good times and the bad, he refused multiple offers from Real Madrid and Chelsea to stay at his Premier League trophy-less side.
His desire to leave is understandable. Omission from the starting eleven, for a player with his determination, can only seem as a gibe. Despite an end to his youthful days when he seemed to be a battering ram with ball skills, his energy remains. This energy has undeniably fueled his desire to play week in, week out. Liverpool fans can only hope that he will maintain his character in the MLS, shining unlike so many players who have made the transatlantic trip, only to disappear as they age. No matter what he does, however, Steven Gerrard has left his stamp on the beautiful sport of Football.
Below are links to memorable Steven Gerrard videos/moments:
The Miracle of Istanbul: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPEmC3vN-bQ
Best Goals Compilation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UH6xY01jp5A
First Goal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7hMFbhV8HY
Oh captain, my captain, you shall be missed.