END OF AN ERA

The “Stevie G Era” is officially OVER. Steven Gerrard himself released a statement on Liverpool’s official website (LiverpoolFC.com) that confirmed that he will be playing out the remainder of his current contract (which ends in May 2015) and not be renewing it, making it definite that he will not be playing for Liverpool next season. He is moving on.

Gerrard’s career at Liverpool has spanned nearly 17 years and included 10 trophies, as well as 695 appearances and 180 goals to date since Stevie joined the club’s youth system aged just eight years old. He had caught the attention of scouts and staff at Liverpool early on and he would continue to play for the club in the city he was born in. The club he had supported himself as he grew up.

Steven Gerrard was described as a "future star" in the newspaper. They weren't wrong.

Steven Gerrard was described as a “future star” in the newspaper. They weren’t wrong, though they did not spell his first name correctly! It’s S-T-E-V-E-N.

How can I describe this player? I think “LOCAL HERO” sums it up pretty well, though not entirely. He’s so much to so many people, but this accurately sums up the feelings of all the Reds from the city of Liverpool, trust me. I am one of them.

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This lad from Huyton, Liverpool has earned the respect of fans all over Merseyside including even the Everton fans who have seen his displays of world class football as he has managed to score against our local rivals (even managing a hat trick). They can’t hate him, he’s far too good to even try and mock him when he’s THAT good. He silences his critics with amazing displays that stun people and in recent years, has been the captain and leader of the Liverpool team.

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He remains to this day, the only player who has scored in the FA Cup Final, the Carling Cup (league cup) Final, the Champions League Final and the Europa League (UEFA Cup) Final. That’s just one of the ways that he’s gone about earning the respect of many fans (not just Liverpool fans) and also other players including Andrea Pirlo, who has played against Gerrard in European Cup Finals more than once (he was in Istanbul when Milan lost to Liverpool and also in Athens in 2007 when Liverpool lost to Milan. They may have also met in international games at the World Cup).

some things never change, including Gerrard earning the respect of other players.

some things never change, including Gerrard earning the respect of other players.

Other players to have held Gerrard in high regard include Thierry Henry, Zinedine Zidane and Gary Lineker, all of whom have praised him publicly.

In 2009, just a few years after winning the Champions League, Zidane would say Gerrard “just might be the best in the world”.

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In April of 2014, Gary Lineker was speaking out at the Liverpool captain’s efforts in the title race for the Premier League, which Liverpool ended up coming 2nd in.

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I’ve been watching Liverpool since the 1980s (the same teams Gerrard would have been a fan of when he was a child) and I have not known a more dedicated and loyal player than Steven Gerrard. In a sport where many other players frequently change club and often transfer to “where the money is” as they make moves to the club that offers them the most money, Steven Gerrard has stayed loyal for over 16 years to Liverpool FC. He had offers to join many other clubs including Real Madrid, Inter Milan, Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Barcelona. Most clubs and managers in Europe (and beyond) wanted Gerrard in their starting 11. It’s well known that Jose Mourinho had a rather “love-hate” relationship with Stevie, he both loved and respected Gerrard and tried to sign him but also did not like that he was refused his signature. Jose did not like being rejected, he always wants to get whatever he wishes but he never could have Steven Gerrard. Stevie would also play well against and even score against teams that Mourinho was managing at the time. That must have made him so mad… “the one he couldn’t sign” was infuriatingly good against his teams.

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His records for league appearances recently surpassed Billy Liddell who had played in the English league 492 times for the club. Gerrard is pretty much equal (or will be in less than 15 more league games) with Jamie Carragher, who he played alongside for many years but it seems with his imminent depature at the end of this season, he will never break Ian Callaghan’s record of playing 640 league games for Liverpool. Despite not being “number 1” (in this list), there was still many other Liverpool players over the years who did not manage to stay as loyal to Liverpool as Gerrard, which is reflected in this list. You think Phil Thompson played more than Stevie? Wrong! Perhaps Keegan or Dalglish? NO, wrong! Alan Hansen? What about Ian Rush or John Aldridge? John Barnes? Robbie Fowler? NO! Stevie played more league games for a single club than all of those legends. They all had played for more than one club in their career, while Gerrard has only ever had Liverpool.

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There’s no doubting his loyalty to Liverpool FC and nobody will have the right to say “well, all players are disloyal nowadays” about Gerrard. He has proven himself to be more loyal than a long history of Liverpool players and has his own reasons for moving on. The reasons listed by Steven himself include “I would like to play in another league for a team that is not in direct competition with Liverpool”. That means he won’t be playing at Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City, Everton, Manchester United – all the English clubs are ruled out as potential clubs he will transfer to. Also, if he does not want to play in European competition against Liverpool, he’ll have to choose a team outside of Europe that would not be in the Champions League or Europa League. Currently, LA Galaxy are definitely interested in signing him, there are signs pointing towards the possibility of Steven moving to Los Angeles to play his football in the MLS. Since they are North American, there’s no danger of them ever competing with Liverpool for any European trophy. He would certainly still have the respect of the Liverpool fans when he moves on (unlike Torres or Suarez, who have been since branded by many fans as “traitors” for leaving the club to play for European rivals that would be competing for some of the same trophies with Liverpool).

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On a personal note, I would like to express how much Steven Gerrard means to me. He is a local hero. He is a family man who has three daughters and a loving wife. He has been a leader who has led his team to many victories and much success. He’s been the perfect role model for kids who want try and become a professional footballer, who wouldn’t want to be “the next Gerrard”? Liverpool FC and all it’s fans owe Gerrard a LOT and all he has ever asked for in return is our support, which we gladly gave to him. He deserved it.
He is the most inspirational player in the last two decades at least to have played for Liverpool (perhaps ever).

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It has been well documented that Rafa Benitez did not give the half time team talk in Istanbul, the manager was at a loss for words and was frantically trying to organize tactics for turning the game around, so he didn’t say much at all. It was Dietmar Hamann and Steven Gerrard who were the most vocal in the dressing room and part of inspiring Liverpool to make a comeback from 3-0 down at half time.

Gerrard would score in the 54th minute, giving the initial inspiration to the team as fans started to think “wait, it’s not over yet”. Two minutes later, Vladimir Smicer would put the ball in the net also as the score became 3-2 and we DEFINITELY had the belief that we could equalize by then. The third goal would come just four minutes later as Xabi Alonso scored and then Liverpool would hold onto the 3-3 score line for the other 30 minutes of the second half and beyond as the last half hour of the game led us to extra time and penalties. A total of three goals in 6 minutes (from the 54th to the 60th minute) gave us what we needed and it felt like it all started with our captain, Stevie G.

Led by Steven Gerrard, we would have equalized and taken the game to the penalty shootout ultimate ending that proved to be the best “comeback” of all time in Champions League Final history and win the 5th European cup for Liverpool. A cup that remains in the trophy cabinet at Anfield, because we get to keep it. Only teams that win it 5 times get to keep the European Cup, anyone who wins it for the 4th time or less has to hand it back to UEFA eventually, as the prize for another team in the same competition in the next season. No other British teams have won the European Cup 5 times, it remains a record that Gerrard helped achieve and which Liverpool still hold.

I love and respect Steven Gerrard for all these reasons and more. It breaks my heart to find out that he will no longer be a Liverpool player after this season but one thing I will not do is HATE him for leaving. He has earned my respect and love over many years and will continue to have it once he is gone.

As I mentioned earlier, Steven Gerrard made a statement on Liverpool’s official website and some of his final words about his decision said:

“From now until the last kick of the last game of the season, I will be as fully committed to the team as I ever have been and giving everything I have to help Liverpool win games.

My final message is for the people who make Liverpool Football Club the greatest in the world – the supporters.

It has been a privilege to represent you, as a player and as captain. I have cherished every second of it and it is my sincere wish to finish this season and my Liverpool career on a high.”

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Thank you for EVERYTHING, Stevie G. You’ve been a role model for many people around the world and one of the longest serving Kop Legends to ever put on a Liverpool shirt.

YOU’LL NEVER WALK ALONE, STEVEN GERRARD!

 

[written by] Stuart Drewery.

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I’m an Englishman (born and raised in Liverpool in the 80s). My whole family including my parents and grandparents were Liverpool fans so i was born into being a red.

I’ve seen Liverpool win the league (about 25 years ago) and I’ve been 100% loyal and committed while supporting the Reds through all the good times AND the bad times since the 80s.

I’m a die hard Liverpool fan (only supported ONE club in my whole life, Liverpool) and one of the most dedicated fans you’ll ever meet.

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