Teenage Gerrard left club captain on the floor!
On the 16th anniversary of Steven Gerrard’s Liverpool debut, long-serving teammate Jamie Carragher explained some of his earliest memories of our legendary skipper, the official website reports.
According to the former central defender, older Liverpool players could see how good Gerrard was going to be from his very first training session with the seniors…
“Teammates have told stories about the first time they witnessed Steven’s qualities – the type of qualities supporters have seen displayed so often over the years,” Carragher began.
“There is one where he wiped Paul Ince out in a tackle in one of his first training sessions before raking a perfect cross-field pass.
“Stevie was 18 years old and Ince was Liverpool’s club captain, had captained England and had played in Italy. Yet for me, it’s only when a player does something in a match situation that you can really gauge where he is at in terms of a standing.
“Three days later we played Celta Vigo at Anfield [in the UEFA Cup third round second leg]. Ince and Steve McManaman were suspended after being sent off against Valencia and Gerard Houllier, who’d been appointed as sole manager not long before, had selection problems in midfield.
“If it was a daunting task for Stevie, he didn’t show it. It was his first start in a competitive first-team match at Anfield and even though we were below strength, he did things that made you stop and just go, ‘wow’.
“He took the situation in his stride, passed with authority, tackled fearlessly and tried to drive the team forward. Everything he did was delivered with confidence, a football arrogance.
“There was a type of conviction that you get with the best Liverpool-born players. Wayne Rooney and Ross Barkley have similar qualities. There was a belief and grit in Stevie’s play combined with technique.
“Nothing was going to get in his way. He wasn’t going to let anybody beat him without a fight. Even though we lost to Celta that night, it was a marker of what was to follow for him personally.”
Gerrard has now made 678 appearances for us, scoring 176 goals. He’s won ten major honours, and finished runner up in the Premier League on three occasions – most notably last term when we were so agonisingly pipped to the title by Manchester City.
Now aged 34, there’s questions whether our captain should be an automatic starter anymore, and while he’s no longer the dynamo he was in his prime – it’s important not to forget just mind-blowingly good he once was.