Last Thursday (24/11/16), Steven Gerrard confirmed his retirement from football after over eighteen years in the professional game. Gerrard spent the first seventeen years of his career at boyhood club Liverpool before moving to LA Galaxy for the final eighteen months of his glittering career. The midfielder made 748 appearances for the two clubs, scoring 191 goals in the process, and won 114 caps for England, in which he netted 21 times. Here I am going to highlight 15 key moments in the wonderful career of the former England and Liverpool captain.
Liverpool debut – 29/11/1998
Steven Gerrard joined the Liverpool Academy at the age of 9 in 1989 and was awarded his first professional contract by the Reds on November 5th 1997. After 12 months in the fold, the then-eighteen year old made his Liverpool debut on November 29th 1998 after coming on as a last-minute substitute for Vegard Heggem in a match against Blackburn Rovers.
First LFC goal – 5/12/1999
Gerrard scored his first goal for the Reds at Anfield in a 4-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday; Wednesday were placed bottom of the league at the time so the Reds were expected to win that day, but Gerrard was lucky to start – only gaining his place in the eleven through an injury to normal starter Jamie Redknapp. Gerrard scored a superb solo goal to give the Reds a two-goal cushion as they were too strong for the Owls.
England debut – 31/5/2000
Gerrard made his first senior appearance for England in the Euro 2000 warm-up game against Ukraine, alongside Liverpool team-mate Robbie Fowler. His appearance at Wembley earned a twenty-year-old Gerrard a spot in the England squad for Euro 2000; he appeared once in the tournament, in the 1-0 win over Germany.
2001 treble – May 2001
In 2001, Gerrard won his first honours as a Liverpool player as they swooped to the treble of the FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup. It all started on 25th February at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff for the League Cup final; a late Darren Purse penalty sent the game into extra-time and penalties, which the Reds won 5-4 (Gerrard didn’t take a spot-kick). The second part of the puzzle was completed on 12th May again in Cardiff, as Michael Owen’s superb brace saw the Reds defeat Arsenal in the FA Cup final. The treble was completed four days later in Dortmund as Liverpool beat Spanish side Alaves in extra-time 5-4 after the match finished 4-4 with Gerrard scoring Liverpool’s second.
First England goal – 1/9/2001
Gerrard scored his first goal for England in a match that will never be forgotten by anyone who supports the Three Lions, in ‘that’ win over Germany in 2001. The Germans had beaten England the previous September in the final game at the Old Wembley, but England had the last laugh with a 5-1 thrashing at the Olympic Stadium in Munich. Gerrard’s goal was the pick of the bunch, a volley from twenty-five yards out, giving Oliver Kahn no chance; the other England goals that day were scored by Gerrard’s Liverpool team-mates Michael Owen and Emile Heskey.
Taking LFC captaincy – 15/10/2003
The way in which Gerrard took the captaincy was quite surprising in that he wasn’t replacing someone who had left or was injured, the previous captain – Sami Hyypia – was stripped of the captaincy by manager Gerard Houllier because he thought that the centre back’s performances were being affected by the responsibility. The Frenchman also thought that 23-year-old Gerrard had demonstrated leadership qualities early on in his time at Liverpool and so took the armband for the first time officially in the UEFA Cup tie with Olimpija Ljubljana.
v Olympiakos – 8/12/2004
Perhaps Gerrard’s most important goal for Liverpool came in the Champions League group stage of the 2004/05 season in a match at Anfield against Olympiakos. Liverpool needed a two-goal victory to advance to the knockout stages, and they were staring at exit when Rivaldo scored for the visitors, but Florent Sinama-Pongolle and Neil Mellor’s goals set up a frantic last five minutes only for captain fantastic Gerrard to score one of the best goals of his life to sent Liverpool into the last 16.
Istanbul – 25/5/2005
Another moment from that Champions League campaign came in the final in Istanbul against AC Milan. Liverpool were 3-0 down at half-time and looking at a humiliation before Gerrard popped up with a crucial header to make it 3-1 before goals from Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso put the Reds level. Jerzy Dudek was the hero in extra-time and the shoot-out, saving from Andriy Shevchenko in both instances as Liverpool won their fifth European Cup in spectacular fashion, with Gerrard being named man of the match.
Cardiff – 13/5/2006
Another contender for the most important goal of his career came at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on 13th May 2006 in the FA Cup Final against West Ham. Liverpool had come from two-down to level, but Paul Konchesky seemed to have won it for the Hammers when Gerrard scored an absolute ‘worldie’ from thirty-five yards out, past Shaka Hislop in the first minute of stoppage time to send the game into extra-time. A goalless extra thirty meant the final was to be decided by penalties and Gerrard again played his part, scoring from the spot as the Reds won 3-1 in a match now known as ‘The Gerrard Final’.
2nd place – 2008/2009
The 2008/09 season saw Gerrard come close to winning the Premier League title for the first time, as his Liverpool side came in second place, four points behind champions Manchester United. Liverpool had beaten United twice throughout the season, and had lost two fewer games, but too many draws against teams like Fulham, Hull City and Stoke City meant their title dreams had to be put on hold while United equalled the Reds’ record of eighteen. The season was a successful one for Gerrard though as 16 league goals for the Reds helped towards him being named Football Writers’ Association’s Footballer of the Year.
Taking England captaincy – 16/5/2012
Gerrard had taken the England captaincy on several occasions – in Euro 2008 qualifying, World Cup 2010 qualifying, the 2010 tournament itself and Euro 2012 qualifying – before being permanently given the armband by former Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson in-time for the 2012 Euros. The Liverpool man had a successful tournament, with three assists and two match of the match performances, as he was named in the UEFA Team of the Tournament.
2nd place – 2013/2014
The 2013/14 season was undoubtedly, Gerrard’s best chance at lifting the Premier League trophy as Liverpool captain. In a side where Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling couldn’t stop scoring, the Reds looked on course for their first title success since 1990. However the defining moment came in their penultimate home game against Chelsea; Gerrard slipped when receiving a pass, which allowed Demba Ba to step in and put Chelsea ahead (they went onto win 2-0). They could have still won the league but for throwing away a three-goal lead away at Crystal Palace to draw 3-3 meaning that it was Manchester City’s to lose on the final day. Gerrard scored 13 and assisted 13 in the 13/14 season and was nominated for the PFA Player of the Year award.
International retirement – 21/7/2014
The 2014 World Cup was a disappointing one for England fans; they had gone into the tournament with great hopes, but were knocked out in the group stages for the first time since 1958. Gerrard was captain for the tournament and was partly to blame for both goals as Uruguay beat the Three Lions 2-1. After the tournament, Gerrard announced his retirement from the international game after 114 caps, making him the fourth most capped England player ever.
Leaving Liverpool – 16/5/2015
After the highs of the 13/14 season, the 14/15 season proved to be a disappointing one for Liverpool and Gerrard. The season didn’t quite live up to the highs of the year before, and many people suspected a rift between Gerrard and Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers. On New Year’s Day 2015, Gerrard announced that he was going to be leaving Liverpool at the end of the season, and a week later it was announced he was signing for LA Galaxy. Gerrard’s Liverpool career ended horribly, in a 6-1 thrashing at the hands of Stoke City; the only consolation was that he scored the Liverpool goal.
Retirement – 24/11/2016
After 18 months in LA, Gerrard announced he was leaving the Galaxy and not renewing his contract. On the 24th November 2016, Gerrard announced that he was retiring from the professional game, this came amid rumours that he was going to take the managers job at Milton Keynes Dons, but this wasn’t the case. Gerrard has been rumoured to be joining Alex Inglethorpe in the Liverpool Academy, but we will wait and see. Whatever he does, I have no doubt he will be a success.
Good luck with your retirement Steven George Gerrard. Liverpool legend.