On saturday 29th November 2008, The Guardian published this article written by Tim Rich that I came across while scouring the web looking for snippets of information about out past, present and future. For those that might have missed it (picture from same article included), I thought it would be a nice read. Enjoy!
”It was the only time Steven Gerrard was ignored by the Kop. It was November 29 1998, a Blackburn Rovers side starting to flail desperately and vainly against relegation were already beaten and a teenager was running up and down the touchline waiting to come on.
“All the subs were applauded when Gérard Houllier sent us to warm up,” Gerrard recalled years later. “Well, nearly all. When I ran towards the Kop I could almost hear them saying: “Who’s this skinny little twat?'” The 18-year-old came on for the final few moments as a substitute for Vegard Heggem, was shot through with nerves and remembers his contribution as consisting of one wildly over-hit cross that threatened the upper reaches of the Centenary Stand.
Liverpool were in the middle of a deep low. The uneasy, unworkable alliance between Houllier and Roy Evans had come to its messy, predictable end. They had just lost at home to Derby, been easily eliminated from the League Cup by Tottenham and entered the weekend ninth in the Premier League. It was the twilight of the Spice Boys. The days of David James, Jason McAteer, Jamie Redknapp and Steve McManaman were almost done.
And yet there was a new dawn about to break over Anfield. Michael Owen, who had been part of Gerrard’s year at the Liverpool School of Excellence under Steve Heighway, was on the point of becoming BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year at the age of 18. His first steps, however, were much more assured than those of the man who was to match and then surpass Owen’s achievements at Anfield.
Gerrard’s first start was worse than his debut. Given all the arguments that have enveloped him over what position he should play, it was perhaps significant that Houllier asked him to patrol the right of midfield at White Hart Lane, facing David Ginola, who that season would be voted Footballer of the Year. Gerrard’s recollections are even more downbeat. “Paul Ince was on at me, Ginola was taking the mickey. I was out of position and out of my depth.” He hoped his parents would be out when Match of the Day came on.
And yet nobody at Liverpool worried. Sir Alex Ferguson has said that Ryan Giggs is the only youngster he has ever dealt with whom he knew instantly would make it as a top-flight footballer. “And that is how we felt about Michael and Steven,” said Heighway. “We knew from the age of 14 they were both going to make it. We took them both on an under-18 tour of Spain when they were 13 or 14, which I never did before or since. And their parents knew that I knew they were special. Sometimes you don’t tell the parents because you don’t want to affect their behaviour. But there was no danger with those two.”
Gerrard came to be revered on Merseyside in a way that Owen never was – partly because Owen’s success with England made him a national sporting figure. Gerrard’s triumphs have tended to be with a liver bird rather than a lion on his chest, particularly in the Champions League, which accounts for almost 30% of his 103 Liverpool goals.
Gerrard can be modest, introverted and self-critical ,which might be why the high plateau of his football came when he was given the Liverpool captaincy at the age of 23. Gerrard as a Roy of the Rovers for the Sky Sports generation emerged only once Owen and Robbie Fowler, the big beasts of the Anfield dressing room, had gone. Both Alan Hansen and Jamie Carragher believe that in the modern history of Liverpool, he now stands alongside Kenny Dalglish as the club’s greatest player.
But given his hunger for the one trophy he has never won, Gerrard might remember not November 29 1998 but May 1 1990, when their 18th championship was paraded around Anfield to applause Hansen recalled as strangely muted and complacent. There was a nine-year-old boy on the Kop who would have looked down on that silverware and thought it a birthright. Eighteen years on Steven Gerrard is still waiting.”
Obviously that eighteen year wait has now gone to twenty plus, but with hope in our heart we will keep the faith that the tide has turned and that perhaps in the coming years the Reds will yet again be crowned Champions!