Anfield's ultimate hero: Steven Gerrard retires a Premier League and Liverpool legend

Comments()
Getty/Goal
He never won a league title, but he'll go down as an all-time great at his boyhood club and his influence beyond the football pitch cannot be understated

After 18 years, 748 appearances and 191 goals - with the impossible accomplished and the unreal just routine for him in-between, Steven Gerrard has called time on his playing career.

The eight-year-old who walked through Liverpool’s doors in 1987 has captained his boyhood club, lifting its fifth European Cup in no small part owing to his heroics, and has worn the armband for his country.

Twitter reacts to Gerrard retirement

Third in the Reds’ all-time appearance list, and holder of England’s fourth-most caps, Gerrard did not just live the dream. Like countless games, he bent it to his will.

"Growing up, my dad used to tell me so many stories of the great Liverpool sides and their players,” he noted to Goal in an exclusive this February.

“He was forever showing me videos and educating me on the history of the club so, for me to now be part of it, that's something that can't be put into words. From the age of eight, I wanted to be the very best I could be for Liverpool.

"I gave every ounce of myself and worked harder and harder to realise my goal. I wanted so badly to do well for Liverpool that everything I had in my mind and in my body, I put towards it. I didn't just live the dream, I forced it to come true."

At 36, he has given football the very best of his talents on the pitch, and will now look to contribute off it as he turns his hand to coaching.

And as with his playing career, he will offer every inch of himself on his path to management.

Regardless of where Gerrard started in game - in the centre of the park, right midfield, on the other flank, as a full-back, in the support-striker role - he would often finish it by dragging Liverpool into places they often didn’t belong in but for his intervention.

Gerrard holds advanced Liverpool talks

Olympiakos at Anfield. AC Milan at the Ataturk. West Ham at the Millennium Stadium. There is a lengthy collection of opponents and arenas that have witnessed Gerrard putting on his cape and pulling his side through. In 2001, there was the 30-yarder past Fabien Barthez to help Liverpool to secure their first home win against Manchester United since December 1995. There was the Merseyside Derby hat-trick in 2012, which was the only one in the fixture since 1982, on his 400th appearance.

The list goes on and so does his legacy. It is 18 years since his first-team debut, coming on in a 2-0 victory against Blackburn on November 29, 1998 when he recalled “all the subs were applauded when Gerard Houllier sent us to warm up. Well, nearly all. When I ran towards the Kop I could almost hear them saying: "Who's this skinny little twat?’”

He felt ‘out of his depth’ in his first start, tasked with stopping David Ginola - that season’s Footballer of the Year - at White Hart Lane six days after his bow. But sharply, after issues with growing pains, it became apparent that Liverpool had mined gold - a mix of aggression, genius and grit. As Hughie McAuley, one of Gerrard's first coaches at the club’s Academy noted, he was also a certified leader; someone who not only craved responsibility, but revelled in it.

He was a reference point, not for just those observing Liverpool, but for his team-mates with everyone from Luis Suarez to Xabi Alonso stating the impact he’s had on them.

Gerrard's influence cannot be properly measured in silverware, nor stats with Kenny Dalglish accurately stating he "treats adversity with contempt" and chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, Margaret Aspinall, rightly describing him as “more than a footballer to this city."

The highs & lows of Gerrard's career

For the longest time, the Huyton-born phenom carried Liverpool - both the club and beyond - on his shoulders.

Park his brilliance on the pitch for a moment and consider the £96,000 he donated to the HFSG in January 2014 - his cousin, Jon-Paul Gilhooley, was the youngest of the 96 fans who passed away in the 1989 tragedy.

Gerrard’s support went far beyond finances, with the families labelling him a source of constant encouragement.

Alder Hey Children’s Hospital was also a benefactor of his generosity, with a £500,000 donation in December 2013 made through the former Liverpool skipper’s foundation, using funds generated from his testimonial match against Olympiacos.

Gerrard was also selected as a founding partner of their charity.

Gerrard reveals the reason he retired

He has always gone above and beyond, the brightest light in some of Liverpool’s darkest times.

Despite departing last May for LA Galaxy, Gerrard’s attention never wavered from Merseyside - playing a supporting role from Hollywood - watching every game, offering advice to his former team-mates who needed it and studying their tactical advancement.

He returned to Melwood a year ago to stay in shape during the MLS off-season, and it is only a matter of time before he’s back at the club in a permanent capacity, having held advanced talks over a role at the Academy .

The kid from Ironside retires an icon; unplayable on his day and unshakable as one of the foremost greats in Liverpool’s history.

He’ll no longer be dictating games from midfield, but it won’t be long until he’s deciding them from the touchline.

Next article:
Sevilla vs Barcelona: TV channel, live stream, squad news & preview
Next article:
'The club was right to fine him' - Ter Stegen weighs in on Dembele's Barca conduct
Next article:
'They talked about Chelsea and Man Utd' - Richarlison admits rival interest prior to Everton move
Next article:
Burton Albion vs Man City: TV channel, live stream, squad news & preview
Next article:
Higuain flies to London to complete Chelsea loan move
Close