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Premier League Legends: Steven Gerrard

Steven Gerrard
Welcome back to the latest series of articles from Last Word on Football. This time we look back on the footballers who many class as Premier League legends. Players who wowed the crowd, frustrated the opposition, scored great goals and inspired their team to glory.
Today we look at a one-club man who produced some of the most iconic moments in Premier League history. A stalwart in midfield for both club and country and one of the greatest box to box midfielders to play the game. Steven Gerrard won, almost everything in the game and played at the top level for nearly two decades.

Premier League Legends: Steven Gerrard

Where It All Began for Steven Gerrard: Liverpool

Steven Gerrard joined his local club Liverpool at the age of nine. He rose through the youth ranks and signed a professional contract with the club at 17. The young midfielder made his debut against Blackburn Rovers in the 1998/99 campaign.

In the following season, manager Gerrard Houllier began to use Gerrard more regularly to partner fellow Englishman Jamie Redknapp in central midfield. It proved to be young Gerrard’s breakthrough season and he went on to make 29 appearances as Liverpool finished fourth.

Gerrard scored his first of 120 Premier League goals in a 4-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday on December 5 1999.

His driving run from the halfway line, jinking past two Wednesday defenders and burying the ball emphatically would become a trademark for the young scouser in years to come.

Club Captain Gerrard

It wasn’t long before the local lad established himself in the Liverpool setup under Houllier. Gerrard soon became the first choice centre midfielder and regularly partnered Redknapp, Dietmar Hamman, Danny Murphy and Gary McAllister in his early years at the club.

In Liverpool’s treble-winning campaign in 2000/01, Gerrard made 50 appearances for the club. He scored 10 goals, made seven assists and well and truly established himself in the heart of Houllier’s side.

At the age of 20, Gerrard already won the FA Cup, League Cup and the Europa League (then the UEFA Cup). He finished the season as the Young Player of the Year, as voted for by his fellow professionals.

Gerrard’s consistency continued in the successive campaigns, demonstrating his qualities as an all-action midfielder. He made a name for himself as a tough tackler, a prolific long-range shooter and a precise long-range passer of the ball.

His development led to Houllier naming Gerrard as club captain on October 15, 2003, at the age of 23. It was an honour the Liverpool born star would hold on to for 13 years.

European Glory

The years between the after the 2001 treble was fairly fallow for the usual dominant Liverpool. Only one major trophy was secured in 2003 when the reds lifted the League Cup again.

However, highlight reels of Gerrard’s exploits in the 2004/05 season demonstrated his imperiousness during that season’s Champions League.

Liverpool struggled in the Premier League in 2004/05 and eventually finished fifth, outside the Champions League places. But, a 24-year-old Gerrard played a decisive role in the Red’s lifting the Champions League.

Despite missing much of the group stages due to injury, Gerrard returned for the final two Group A games in the Champions League. Rafa Benitez’s side required a win in their final game against Olympiakos to progress to the knockout stages.

The Greek side led 1-0 at half time thanks to a Rivaldo penalty. The Reds required three goals to progress, Florent Sinama-Pongolle scored a quick goal after half time to level for Liverpool. Another scouser, Neil Mellor scored the second with 10 minutes left to set up a mercy finish for Liverpool.

Gerrard’s first iconic moment of the 2004/05 campaign came five minutes later. With the ball bouncing around on the edge of the D, a charging Gerrard flew forward from deep and rifled in the third. The Kop erupted, Gerrard ecstatic and Andy Gray produced one of the most memorable pieces of commentary ever in the Champions League.

Liverpool proceeded to knockout Bayer Leverkusen, Juventus, and Chelsea en route to the final where they met AC Milan.

A disastrous start to the match saw Milan lead 3-0 at half time. With the Reds crashing out of the final, Gerrard came out in the second-half as a man possessed.

The Red’s captain headed in six minutes after the break won a penalty for Xabi-Alonso to convert and finished the match at right back to lead the club to their first European Cup for 21 years after penalties.

Achievements for Liverpool

Years of consistency and trophy wins came for Gerrard following the 2005 Champions League success. The Liverpool captain won the player of the year award five times at the club, including in four consecutive years between 2003 and 2007.

Gerrard also added a number of medals to his domestic and European honours. In the 2006 FA Cup final, Gerrard scored twice to come back to draw 3-3 with West Ham in Cardiff.

But it was Gerrard’s second that turned the tide for the Reds. With seconds left the ball bounced to Gerrard on the half volley 30 yards out and he smashed in the equaliser to take the game to extra time.

It was Gerrard’s second FA cup winners medal. He would later add another League Cup medal to his collection as another club legend, Kenny Dalgleish led the club to victory over Cardiff in the final.

One honour that alluded Gerrard was a Premier League medal. He came close under Rafa Benitez in 2009, finishing second to rivals Manchester United. Gerrard also received the Player of the Year award for the Premier League for the 2008/09 season. He produced his highest goal tally ever in the Premier League during that season, finishing with 16.

Then in 2014, Liverpool was agonisingly close to winning the title. However, Manchester City beat them to the title, despite the Reds leading with three games left. Again, Gerrard’s stats were impressive, scoring 13 and providing 10 assists during the campaign.

Twilight Years at LA Galaxy

After 17 consecutive seasons at Liverpool, Gerrard played his final game for the club at the end of the 2014/15 season.

The long-standing captain finished with 710 appearances for the Reds, the third-highest at the club.

Gerrard is the fifth-highest scorer for Liverpool, scoring 186 goals during his time at Anfield. He also tops the top penalty scorer list at the club (47) and is the club’s leading scorer in Europe (41).

Following his Liverpool career, Gerrard spent two seasons in the MLS with LA Galaxy. But he returned to Anfield to coach the under 18-squad in 2017. He then took the managerial post at Rangers, where he still coaches today.

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