After a footballing career spanning 19 years, Steven Gerrard has announced his retirement. He made a total of 860 combined appearances for England, Liverpool and LA Galaxy, scoring 212 goals during that period.
Gerrard is the only player to have scored in the FA Cup, League Cup, Uefa Cup and Champions League final. He is also the fourth most capped player for England with 114 caps. Only David Beckham, Wayne Rooney and Peter Shilton have more.
Here are five of the best moments in Steven Gerrard’s long and illustrious career:
1998 – Gerrard makes his debut for Liverpool
November 29th 1998. This was the day that Steven Gerrard made his Liverpool debut as an 18-year-old against Blackburn Rovers. A fresh-faced Gerrard came on as a 90th minute substitute for Vegard Heggem with his side 2-0 up. While he was a highly rated prospect within Melwood and the Academy, nobody, including the man himself, could have predicted what was to follow over the next 17 years at Anfield.
2001 – Wins his first silverware with Liverpool
Gerrard first got his hands on his first trophy in a Liverpool shirt in February 2001, as he helped Liverpool to one of many penalty shootout victories. They beat Birmingham City 5-4 on penalties in the League Cup final.
That was the first of three that season as the Reds secured an unprecedented treble by adding the FA and UEFA Cups three months later. Liverpool beat Arsenal 2-1 in the FA Cup Final to claim their second trophy before their UEFA Cup triumph. The nine-goal thriller against Deportivo Alavés resulted in a 5-4 win for Liverpool thanks to a Golden Goal scored by Deportivo’s Delfi Gelí.
Three trophies in one year for 20-year-old Steven Gerrard. It doesn’t get much better than that.
2003 – Replaces Sami Hyypia as Liverpool captain
Gerard Houllier made Gerrard Liverpool captain in 2003. Sami Hyppia remembers the day that Gerrard became captain and made sure Gerrard knew he was there to offer support and advice. Hyypia said: “I knew that the captaincy was more important to him than for me. He was a Liverpool lad and to be captain of Liverpool was a big thing for him.”
2005 – Starts Liverpool’s comeback in the Champions League final
That famous night in Istanbul. Liverpool were 3-0 down at half-time and it looked like they were down and out. That was before six minutes of madness in the second half, which led to Liverpool being on level terms at 3-3. Gerrard started the comeback with a goal in the 54th minute before a 56th minute goal from Vladimir Smicer and then a 59th minute penalty by Xavi Alonso. Alonso’s penalty was saved but he followed up to score the rebound.
Try as they might, neither team could score the decisive goal in extra-time so the match went to penalties. The Reds won 3-2 on penalties after goalkeeper Dudek saved Shevchenko’s kick. Wild celebrations followed on a magical night in Istanbul. Despite his side being 3-0 down, Gerrard never stopped believing and as the captain, he inspired the rest of the team to believe.
As Rafa Benitez said, “The ‘Miracle of Istanbul’ was only possible because of him.”
2006 – Scores twice in the FA Cup final against West Ham
Steven Gerrard became that player who would inspire Liverpool when it seemed like all hope was lost. A year after Istanbul, Gerrard helped his team to victory yet again, this time in the FA Cup. Despite being favourites to win the Cup, Liverpool were 2-1 down at half-time.
Steven Gerrard lashed home an equaliser before Paul Konchesky’s speculative cross put West Ham ahead once again. But Gerrard wasn’t finished. In the 90th minute, his spectacular strike forced extra-time where neither team could convert their chances. Liverpool won 3-1 on penalties with Pepe Reina saving from Bobby Zamora, Konchesky and Anton Ferdinand to deny West Ham the win.
The Liverpudlian spent 17 years at his boyhood club before moving to LA Galaxy and the memories that he made at Anfield will last a lifetime. He won nine trophies at Liverpool after making his debut as an 18-year old but is perhaps the greatest Englishman to have never won the Premier League.
Liverpool legend Graeme Souness said: “It’s sad he never managed to land a Premier League title, but that does not diminish his input to Liverpool FC, it’s been enormous.”
The word legend is frequently overused but not when applied to Steven Gerrard. Gerrard grew up with a dream of playing for Liverpool and he fulfilled that dream as well as becoming an icon in his home city. Regardless of which team you support, there can be no arguments about the inspirational career of Stevie G.
Featured Image Credit: Rept0n1x