The club's former skipper was full of praise for the current incumbent after his hat-trick in the Merseyside derby and suggests the result will give Spearing a "new lease of life"
By Rob Stewart
Neal helped the Reds win the European Cup four times in 11 trophy-laden years at the Merseyside club but the former England international right-back believes that the current skipper would have what it takes to figure in the highly-successful teams that enabled him to win the English league title eight times.
They featured the likes of Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness, Ian Rush and Alan Hansen but Neal is adamant that Gerrard, whose hat-trick earned Liverpool a 3-0 win over Everton on Tuesday night, would have been able to rub shoulders with his illustrious predecessors.
“The biggest compliment I can pay him is that if Stevie G was around when I was playing he would have won a place in our team somewhere,” Neal told Goal.com.
“Bob Paisley put some great sides together but I think Stevie would have got into all of them. I don’t know who you would have dropped but there would have been a place in the side for him.
“Stevie can play anywhere. He is such a competent player and a classy boy as well. He makes the job look so easy. If anyone in any profession can do that it just shows the class that they uphold within their own industry and that applies to Stevie G in football too.”
Current Liverpool manager Dalglish is generally regarded as the club’s greatest-ever player but Neal believes that Gerrard is not only more versatile but that he is also blessed with fine leadership qualities.
“The one thing that Kenny Dalglish couldn’t do was play in numerous positions,” Neal explained.
“Kenny was in a class of his own in a specific role – as a striker – whilst I think that Stevie G possesses an all-round ability and the knowledge and everything else that he has been through in football would allow him to play anywhere on the park.
“As a captain, Steven leads by example, He is not a mouthy sort of person. He will give certain instructions to his team-mates and it was nice to see Jay Spearing alongside him.
“Just imagine how big Jay will feel today – to have played alongside Stevie and being in a team that has won 3-0 over their local rivals in his hometown. It will give him a new lease of life to want more.”