The skipper speaks out.
Ahead of the Merseyside derby with Everton former Liverpool midfielder Jamie Redknapp spoke to Steven Gerrard about what it will be like playing in his 33rd and final derby for the club.
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Gerrard will bring to an end an 18-year career in the first team this summer when he jets off to MLS to play for LA Galaxy and the captain is clearly going to miss these occasions against the Toffees.
“It is my favourite game of the season. I enjoy winning at Old Trafford, but Everton is closer. I can feel the hate, the bitterness. If there is one ground where I could pick a win, it is Goodison Park,” the 34-year-old was quoted by the Daily Mail.
“Being a local lad, I grew up around the derby. My dad is a massive red and my mum’s brother is a massive blue. So for years and years, even before I sampled it for myself, I loved the games.”
Gerrard is sure to receive a typical Goodison Park reception when he takes to the pitch for probably the last time as a player, but thousands of Reds supporters in the ground will be willing him to win even more so than usual.
The former England international has become synonymous with the club since first making his debut back in 1997 and seeing a squad without his name in as of next season will be a strange scenario.
However, Gerrard is positive about the future of his boyhood side and believes with the young talent available to Brendan Rodgers things will be just fine in his absence – but that they need to secure their long-term futures.
“Liverpool need to sign up Raheem now. And Jordan Henderson too. When I was coming through, once I had a couple of years remaining, my contract would be renewed to avoid the worry,” he continued.
“I see Jordan with a year left and Raheem’s (contract situation) in the paper too much and I know there is no smoke without fire.
“My message to the club is: get these done. Sharpish.
Sterling, Henderson, Sturridge and Coutinho, who has just signed, are the future of this club. I want to watch them delivering trophies for Liverpool. I should mention Jordon Ibe to you too.”
Gerrard is looking forward to his new life in Los Angeles, but has stressed that he isn’t going to America for a holiday and will one day return to Merseyside – although whether that is as a manager is a different matter.
“I don’t want anyone in America to think I am going to take it easy. I want to start games, score goals,” the skipper added.
“I hope to be back in some capacity. I want to step out and look in from the outside. I’ll only become a manager if I feel I’m good enough. For the next three, four, five years I want to learn.
“It kills me to think I’m going to move away from all this, but I am excited about the challenges ahead, even if I feel a little sad too.”
The final word was saved for Rodgers himself, who Gerrard has nothing but praise for and despite a slightly more shaky campaign this time around after finishing second last term, the captain believes the Northern Irishman will finally deliver the Premier League title to Anfield.
“I wish I could have worked with him in my prime,” he concluded.
“I believe I would have a couple of medals that I sorely miss – Premier League title medals.
“I’m sure he will deliver at this club. The players love him. His work is fresh, it’s new.”