Steven Gerrard’s Liverpool homecoming has been confirmed with the club legend entering the next phase of his career by joining the Academy as a coach.
As Goal revealed in November, the 36-year-old held advanced talks with the Reds over helping shape their future generation as he takes steps towards management.
The positive discussions had preceded his retirement announcement, and following his decision to call time on a celebrated playing career, it became apparent Kirkby would be the setting for his new chapter despite several other offers.
Gerrard, who has been working towards his UEFA ‘A’ licence, will begin his duties in February. It will be in a floating role initially, with the chance to oversee an age group to be examined further down the line.
Having signed up to Liverpool’s youth structure as an eight-year-old in 1987 before going on to captain the club, lift its fifth European Cup, and earn his status alongside their pre-eminent greats, the move sees the former skipper come full circle.
However, Gerrard’s motivation to accept a position at the Academy wasn’t influenced by sentiment.
He made it clear during negotiations that any position he agreed to at Liverpool should hinge on what he could offer, how much he could learn, and the opportunity to make a substantial contribution.
"It feels like completing the circle; returning to the place where professionally it all began," Gerrard said.
"However, this isn't a decision based on emotion - it's about what I can offer and contribute to Liverpool.
"I don't think I need to explain to people what this football club means to me, but when I knew coming back was a serious option I wanted to make sure it was a substantive role and a role in which I could really help the organisation.
"Meeting with [Academy director] Alex Inglethorpe, seeing the work they are currently doing and want to do in the future at Kirkby, it just felt right. The right option at the right time, for all parties involved.
"This gives me a great opportunity to learn and develop as a coach, while at the same time offering my knowledge, ideas and experience to the young players at an important period of their development."
While doing practicals for his UEFA ‘B’ badge with the help of first-team development coach Pepijn Lijnders, Gerrard had already undertaken coaching sessions at Kirkby with the Under-16s.
He earmarked Trent Alexander-Arnold, who made his first Premier League start in the 1-1 draw at Manchester United last weekend, for success.
On the appointment, Inglethorpe said: "If I was to pick one individual who embodies the characteristics and values we are looking to instil into our organisation at Kirkby it would be Steven Gerrard.
"For him to have been so enthusiastic about being part of what we are looking to do is simply great news for everyone connected to the club.
"I don't think it would surprise anyone to know that Steven has had a host of great options, in terms of what to do next in his career, including playing, management and coaching. But it's been evident from the first meeting with him that his heart and head belongs here.
"He has shown great humility in making it clear from the outset he wants a role where he can contribute to Liverpool; it's typical of him that his priority has been defining the role so it helps the club, ahead of himself.
"He has expressed a desire to learn from us and manage a young team. The benefits to us will be immense. This is a substantial role and one which makes the Academy and the club in general stronger and better."