Although he is something of a cult hero, Vegard Heggem will be best known on Merseyside for being the man that came off during our 2-0 win against Blackburn 17 years ago, and allowed Steven Gerrard to make his debut.
Ahead of our captain’s final appearance in a Liverpool shirt, the Norwegian has been reflecting on the career of one of our greatest players, The Guardian report.
The 39-year-old was not able to be present for Gerrard’s farewell at Anfield last week, but he explained that, while the result against Crystal Palace wasn’t ideal, he was delighted to see the events that unfolded following the game.
“I followed the scores on my phone and although it was a shame Liverpool couldn’t win for Stevie I’m glad he at least got a big send-off. That’s the least he deserved for having been a great Liverpool player for such a long time,” he said.
Apart from the highest moments of his incredible career – the Champions League or FA Cup final victories spring to mind – Gerrard has shown great humility and taken everything in his stride. Heggem revealed that he showed that same control following his breakthrough into the first-team and then his debut.
“He had just made his debut for Liverpool, the club he’d supported since a boy, but he wasn’t jumping up and down and getting excited. Instead he was quiet and normal. But that was typical of Stevie, he was always down to earth. Very humble. Very professional,” he added.
Despite the former England captain’s upcoming departure, this week has been largely overshadowed by the situation regarding Raheem Sterling. BBC Sport reported earlier in the week that he intended to leave Anfield, and thus he has incurred the wrath of the Liverpool fans. Heggem – who retired from the game in 2003, at the desperately young age of 27 – believes that the 20-year-old needs to learn from his skipper.
“Sterling should look at Stevie as a role model. You cannot overstate the importance of patience as a young player in order to establish yourself, and that is something Stevie definitely had. He worked and worked to become a top professional in an environment that allowed him to do so and eventually became one of the best players in the world,” Heggem explained.