Steven Gerrard recently announced his official retirement from football. It comes after a career which has spawned 652 games for club and country. The Liverpool great retires with a trophy cabinet which contains a Champions League, a UEFA Cup, 2 FA Cups, and 3 League Cups, among many others.
At an individual level, he came 3rd in the Ballon d’Or in 2005, is a former UEFA Footballer of the Year, PFA Players’ and Young Player of the Year, a 3-time member of the FIFA FIFPro World XI, 4-time Liverpool Player of the Year, and has been part of the PFA Premier League Team of the Year 8 times.
Steven Gerrard’s career is one full of once in a lifetime moments. Whether it is his 2005 Champions League heroics in Istanbul, or his stunning strike in the 2006 FA Cup Final, or his many other achievements over his 18-year career.
He kicked off his professional career at the club which he became an iconic figure, when he came on as a last-minute substitute on the 29th of November 1998 against Blackburn Rovers. That season, Mr. Merseyside ended with 12 Premier League appearances, although he failed to score a single goal.
Over the next 16 years at Anfield, he scored a total of 186 goals in 710 games. At international level, Gerrard made his very first appearance for England at the age of 20 against Ukraine in 2000. Fast forward to when he retired from international duty in 2014, and he had made 114 appearances for his country, having scored 21 goals.
Gerrard moved to the MLS and LA Galaxy in 2015. He would have 38 games at the club in two years, scoring 5 goals in the process.
Steven Gerrard belongs in an exclusive class in the list of the greatest midfielders in Premier League history. He joins the likes of Frank Lampard and Paul Scholes as iconic figures in English football. In a modern game where the likes of Mezut Ozil, Eden Hazard and Philippe Coutinho are impressing in the Premier League, Gerrard, Lampard, and Scholes remain the benchmarks for any Premier League midfielder.
More than even that, Gerrard is to Liverpool what John Terry is to Chelsea; he IS Liverpool. While he is not a one man club to the extent that Terry, Giggs, and Scholes are, nothing encapsulated the spirit and passion of Liverpool football club like Gerrard did.
While he came close to joining Chelsea in 2005, and would have probably won the titles he never got to win at Liverpool, he remained at Anfield and went on to form illustrious partnerships with the likes of Fernando Torres and Luis Suarez.
His memories and iconic moments at Liverpool will never be replicated by anyone ever again. His goals against West Ham in the FA Cup Final 2006, and against Olympiacos in 2004 (Gerrard’s own favourite goal) will live on forever in the annuls of Liverpool football club.
However, no single occasion will typify what kind of a player that Gerrard is more than Istanbul in 2005. After falling behind 3-0 to AC Milan in the Champions League Final in the Turkish capital, a Gerrard inspired Liverpool team came back with 3 goals in 6 second half minutes. Gerrard started off the comeback with a pinpoint header 9 minutes into the second half and, from there, he and his teammates grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck, completed the comeback, and then beat Milan on penalties to win the most unlikely of European Cups.
It was a game which sums up Gerrard perfectly. While he didn’t have the longevity and adaptability of Paul Scholes, and while he wasn’t the prolific goalscorer that Lampard was for Chelsea, no midfielder in the history of the Premier League could change a game singlehandedly like he could.
It was he who inspired that Istanbul comeback, and it was he who scored the goal vs Olympiacos that ensured Liverpool’s qualification to the Champions League. The fact that he never won the Premier League when he was at Liverpool is completely irrelevant, considering how ANDERSON won FOUR titles at Manchester United.
He ended his Liverpool career in 2015 with a bit of a whimper. Injuries, coupled with lack of form, meant that he was unable to leave English football with as big of a bang that he would have liked. He made 29 appearances in the league, scoring 9 goals in the process. He was sent off in 23 seconds against Manchester United, and he scored his final Liverpool goal in a 6-1 defeat to Stoke City on the final day of that season.
The biggest blotch on Gerrard’s career is his time with England. Despite earning over 100 caps, becoming captain of his country in 2010, and appearing 3 World Cups and 4 European Championships, Gerrard was unable to add winning a trophy to his already rich career.
Gerrard spent the final 2 years of his footballing career at LA Galaxy. The reason his time in LA Galaxy hasn’t been detailed all that much here is because, well, he didn’t really do much over there. While he did make those 38 appearances, he only scored 5 goals and didn’t win a singles trophy.
Gerrard is, beyond any doubt, one of the greatest and most respected midfielders in Premier League history, and has had an incredibly decorated career for Liverpool. While he was unable to succeed with England and LA Galaxy, that is not enough to add any doubt to the icon that he is. Now that he is retired, Liverpool fans can dream of their legend one day becoming their manager.