By Craig Muncey
Will be a number of articles written about Steven Gerrard as his Liverpool playing career comes to an end, in football fans of Liverpool’s eyes the man is a legend, encompassing a local lad who came good, and many times got Liverpool over the finishing line. In some other football fans eyes, a great player but never reached the height of expectations on the international scene.
League Stats and Individual/Team Honours – Liverpool 1998-2015
504 appearances and 120 goals. In total 710 games and 186 goals in all competitions. 2 FA Cup’s, 1 community shield, 3 League Cup’s, 1 Champions League, 1 UEFA Cup and 2 UEFA Super Cup’s. Gerrard also as an individual amongst many awards also picked up UEFA club player of the year, football writers player of the year, PFA players player of the year and also the PFA young player of the year.
International Career – 2000-2014
114 caps, 21 goals. Playing in 3 European Championships and 3 World Cup final tournaments, captaining England in 2 of those tournaments. In Euro 2012, was named in the team for players of the tournament.
Impact as a player
From the earliest days when he broke into the Liverpool team, you could see his passion and drive to play football, he was used in a number of positions for Liverpool such as right back, right midfield, centre midfield and just off the striker, and at his best, he was the best player Liverpool had in all those positions. When played out wide, his crossing was up there with the best, whipped in with great pace, however his surges from the centre of the park and his range of passing and his goal tallies, (3 seasons he topped 20 goals) were vital for Liverpool. He scored important goals for Liverpool, none more so than his goals against West Ham in the FA Cup Final, AC Milan in the never to be forgotten Champions League Final in Istanbul and his goal versus Olympiakos, that got Liverpool through the group stages of the Champions League which eventually meant ultimately Champions League glory.
His international career I think it is fair to say you did not see the same dominating player you saw for Liverpool, the central midfield duo of Gerrard and Frank Lampard, never seemed to click and came under intense scrutiny and criticism as did the combination of Gerrard and Paul Scholes, two hugely talented players but for whatever reasons, the understanding relationship was there. Gerrard’s international career sadly came to an end with a disappointing show in the World Cup 2014, with his attempted header back to Joe Hart, which Luis Suarez latched upon to score.
In his playing career there were episodes of frustration and poor decisions, he has accumulated 8 sending off’s 2 being against Manchester United, 2 against Everton, which are Liverpool’s biggest two rivals. His last sending off being at Anfield, against Manchester United after 48 seconds of coming on, and I know a number of football fans feel that Gerrard has got away with some very bad challenges throughout his career, where others with more of a reputation such as Kevin Nolan, Lee Cattermole, Joey Barton etc would not of, and in some cases, I can see that point of view.
For me as a football fan, Steven Gerrard was the most complete British midfield player of the 2000’s to date, if you list the requirements of a midfielder, such as strength, range of passing ability, awareness, intelligence, athletic ability, goal threat, tackling etc, he scores highly in all those areas,more often than not. For me he had it all at his best and I have debated this with mates in the pub who argue others such as Lampard and Scholes were better, but for me, all round ability Gerrard comes out on top.
So many respected ex players have said how highly they rated him such as Thierry Henry, Pele and Zinedine Zidane who in 2009 stated that at that moment in time, Gerrard was the best player in the world.
A player who stayed loyal to one club, who scored so many important goals and so many contributions and due to his loyalty missed out on one wish, a league title. But what a player, good luck in America.