Home is where Gerrard is - why Stevie G’s return will benefit Liverpool

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Steven Gerrard's appointment as part of Reds' Academy staff allows the club's next generation of talent to see close up just what it takes to succeed


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Pepijn Lijnders, Liverpool’s first-team development coach, often repeats an ideology the club fully subscribes to: “Young players need models.” It is, in his respected estimation, “pure gold” for development when talented kids are able to learn directly from the footballers they admire. 

And what better example to gain direction from than the young hopeful that couldn’t see beyond his tears after being rejected by the National School of Football at Lilleshall, who then grew to captain his boyhood club as well as his country, cuddled up with the European Cup - the trophy secured in large part courtesy of his heroics, and retired an undisputed legend?

HD Steven Gerrard Liverpool

Steven Gerrard’s appointment as a coach at Liverpool’s Academy, initially in a floating role, will have sparked celebratory scenes among the trainees at Kirkby. So many of them would’ve grown up pretending to be him. All of them know the move presents the perfect opportunity to soak up all they can from an icon of the game. 

Aside from the kind of ability that saw him make the impossible look routine and forced him into Ballon d’Or contention, Gerrard’s professionalism - with even the smallest detail like time-keeping - should be compulsory learning. 

Gerrard back at Liverpool as coach

The 36-year-old did not want his merits as a footballer to be the basis of a role at the Academy, but by default, what he achieved and how he did it will be consumed by the kids that are determined to take the same steps. 

The youth structures of rival clubs will also no doubt be unsettled by the thought of Gerrard meeting the best of tomorrow’s stars to convince them Liverpool is the perfect development hub.

Would Dele Alli have been part of a dazzling Anfield attack instead of lighting it up with Tottenham had his “hero” not been asleep in preparation for a matchday when the 20-year-old visited Melwood. Possibly and probably.

HD Steven Gerrard Alex Inglethorpe

"At the time when I was at MK [Dons] there was contact with Liverpool before I signed for Tottenham,” the Spurs' sensational said.

“But that was before we'd even spoke to Tottenham. I think it was six months before.

"We went up there and I think they knew that Steven Gerrard was my hero, so they said he was going to come down to meet me, but when I got there he was asleep apparently.

"I think he had a game the next day though so I understand."

Liverpool, who have a salary cap for academy players to guard against the excesses that often derail them, will not be able to compete financially to lure gifted youth, but they can leverage the opportunity of learning from a man the likes of Zinedine Zidane and Javier Zanetti so highly respect. 

Beyond the prestige and presence Gerrard will add to the Academy is his unrelenting drive to learn as much as he can, be as much as he can, do as much as he can.

HD Steven Gerrard Steve Heighway

He spent his years as a player preparing for the next chapter by filling notebooks with his findings from different managerial approaches and tactical interpretations.

“All the coaches I've worked with at Liverpool, I tried to log notes on their way of working, things I felt they did right or wrong, how they handled different situations,” he told Goal last February.

And in his autobiography, the former midfielder detailed how “fascinating” he found the contrast between dictating a game from the touchline instead of from the pitch.

“It was an eye-opener in the sense of how different to was from playing,” Gerrard explained.

“I was so used to making a quick point while playing in the middle of a training session - and now I had to learn how to step back and find the language to explain something much deeper to a broad group of players. 

“It was thought-provoking and I could understand why many top footballers are just not cut out for coaching.”

HD Steven Gerrard

Having already drilled Liverpool’s Under-16s as part of his UEFA ‘B’ license course work in the past, where he earmarked Trent Alexander-Arnold for success, the next phase of Gerrard’s career is bound to be as dynamic as his playing days given his diligence and determination.

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He should be applauded for starting from the bottom and building a coaching base for himself, turning down the chance to fast track his managerial journey at MK Dons. 

Gerrard, who sought advice from Jurgen Klopp after retiring, is willing to put in the effort to make sure he is properly primed for the next leap. 

And therein lies another teaching for those he will guide at the Academy. 

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