We love this anecdote about our legendary former skipper…
As if it wasn’t hard enough for teenage Academy players to step up and train alongside Steven Gerrard, Liverpool’s greatest ever midfielder used to scythe them down for good measure – as a test of character!
Martin Samuel made the claim in his column for the Daily Mail – before referencing how Raheem Sterling maybe misses the guidance of Gerrard since his controversial transfer to Manchester City:
“Steven Gerrard had a little test for any new, young player who fought his way into the Liverpool squad. It wasn’t very subtle. He would hit him with a tackle in training. A big one. A Gerrard special. The sort that, in a game, would leave a mark. If the lad came back from that; if Gerrard then got one in return or his opponent did not shrink, Gerrard would privately declare him Liverpool-worthy.”
During Gerrard’s tenure at the top, not many would have sufficiently impressed. Sterling was one of them, as was fullback Jon Flanagan – while beforehand – the likes of Jay Spearing, Neil Mellor and Stephen Warnock broke through to limited levels of success.
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Now the skipper’s gone, we wonder how his replacement Jordan Henderson deals with upcoming youngsters. We can imagine the current incumbent being less intimidating as he cannot claim to be the world’s best midfielder – perhaps preferring an arm round the shoulder approach.
In fact, it’s the kind of leadership and experience Gerrard demonstrated in that tale we perhaps currently lack. Our squad is young and hungry, but lacks greatness and pedigree – which with the likes of Gerrard, Xabi Alonso, Javier Mascherano, Fernando Torres and Luis Suarez at various stages – we had in abundance.