Steven Gerrard was given a round of applause by journalists at the conclusion of his final press conference as a Liverpool player, ahead of this weekend’s Premier League game against Crystal Palace.
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Saturday’s match is more than likely to be Gerrard’s last at Anfield, with a summer move to LA Galaxy now just around the corner. However, our legendary captain was as calm an ever as he spoke with reporters this afternoon, discussing a potential future role, his biggest influences as a player and his unique relationship with the fans.
Asked how he was feeling in the build up to the game against Palace, he said (via BBC Sport): “I’m good. Looking forward to it. I want to win and finish on a high at Anfield.
“There’s no getting away from it. It will be emotional. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved and all the great memories. I dreamed of playing for this club as a boy and now I’m 708 appearances down the line.
“I want to play every minute possible. It’s what I intend to do,” he added. I want to say goodbye to everyone at Anfield, but want to be involved against Stoke.
“I feel a bit sorry for my team-mates. I didn’t want to take the attention away from my team-mates. This weekend, it’s only normal the attention falls on me but I’m sorry for that.”
Earlier this week, former Liverpool star Jamie Carragher urged Gerrard to ‘avoid the tears’ at the final whistle (via Sky Sports). Sami Hyypia famously broke down on the pitch ahead of his Anfield exit in 2009 and Carragher does not want to see a repeat from his close friend.
Speaking about the emotion of the occasion, Gerrard said: “I don’t know how emotional it will be. I don’t know what it’s going to be like. I’ve been dreading it because I’m going to miss it so much. The plan is to try and keep it together and avoid the tears.
“If someone had said when I was going to the academy at eight years old that you’re going to play 708 games and win the trophies, along with the highs and lows, I’d have taken that.”
Gerrard was also quizzed on his Liverpool future. There has been plenty of speculation regarding his possible return as a manager or a coach (via The Guardian), although he was quick to cool such rumours here.
“If there’s a role I consider myself good enough for, then I’d like to come back,” he admitted. “I do feel I can contribute in the future.”
The skipper singled out former manager Gerard Houllier and current boss Brendan Rodgers for special praise, labelling the pair as his biggest footballing influences.
“I owe an awful lot to Gerard Houllier,” he explained. “He was a father figure and I won three trophies under him. He gave me the captaincy at 23 and it was a brave thing to do. I owe an awful lot to him.
“I wish I’d met him Brendan Rodgers earlier in my career. I know I’d be talking about trophies now.”
Gerrard closed by discussing the fans, who have had the pleasure of watching him for almost two decades.
“The supporters have been incredible since day one,” he concluded. “I’ve had cruel lows and incredible highs. Their support has never changed in 17 years. That will be the most emotional goodbye.”