It’s impossible to fully express just how much Steven Gerrard means to Liverpool fans but here’s my attempt…
As a boy growing up in Kent, I remember regularly getting accused of being a glory hunter for supporting Liverpool FC.
That I had little choice in the matter due to my Dad’s allegiance nor the fact that I regularly visited the city meant anything in the harsh reality of the school playground.
Thinking back, it was somewhat strange to have my credentials questioned given the lack of local alternatives – only Gillingham were, and are, a football league club based in Kent and nobody questioning me ever supported them.
I was seven when Kenny Dalglish steered Liverpool to their last league title and therefore was more accustomed to the club struggling dramatically under Graeme Souness and then winning plaudits, but very little else, under Roy Evans.
As time past, something, or more accurately someone, suddenly emerged that peaked my hopes of glory, and made me even prouder to call myself a Liverpool fan; Steven George Gerrard.
Right from the off you could tell he was different. Dynamic and determined in equal measure, there was soon a very real sense that the outlook for success had brightened significantly.
And so it was to prove. The big stage, which had reduced me to tears in 1996 when Eric Cantona settled the drabbest of FA Cup finals, soon became almost exclusively Gerrard’s whenever the Reds were in a final.
I was in my mid teens when he debuted and instantly felt I could relate to this scruffy, down-to-earth kid, who would quickly go on to replace Robbie Fowler at the top of my affections.
I’d never previously been someone to have a player’s name printed on my football shirts but for him I made an exception; I wanted to be Stevie G.
After being constantly regaled with stories and eulogies about the likes of Dalglish, Billy Liddell and Ian Callaghan, I finally had a player of a similar standing who’s career I could actually follow in person.
The stats – 710 appearances, 186 goals, seven major trophies – only tell part of the story given his impact and significance, not to mention the lack of overall quality in many of the teams he was playing in.
Until my wedding and the recent birth of my first child, the greatest moments of my life were solely intertwined with his; the treble of 2001, Istanbul 2005, Cardiff 2006.
Of course there should have been many more but in some ways his loyalty and the way he conducted himself, particularly in a modern game awash with flash, social media-addicted attention seekers, are of equal importance.
Of course my view, as a Liverpool fan, is somewhat biased but you only need to read the opinions of his contemporaries to understand just how good Gerrard has been.
Such illumines as Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry, Paolo Maldini and Andrea Pirlo, are united in their passionate assessments of both Steven Gerrard the player, and Steven Gerrard the man.
The fact that Pirlo, one of the most gifted, revered and successful midfielders of recent times, once described him as Europe’s ‘most complete footballer’ says it all.
From a Liverpool perspective, Gerrard is probably best summed up by the giant Kop-end flag which reads: “The best there is. The best there was. The best there ever will be.”
Anfield will certainly not be the same without him. YNWA.
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